Vaccination clinic for refugees and asylum seekers

Bolton’s refugees and asylum seekers received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine at a special clinic this week.

More than 100 vaccinations took place at BRASS (Befriending Refugees and Asylum Seekers) Bolton, at their base in Great Lever.

The venue was selected as it is a recognised focal point for people supported by the Green Lane charity. The charity offers support and advice on immigration, asylum and citizenship rights, as well as providing workshops, training, ESOL classes. It also helps people to access health services.

Dr Helen Wall, senior responsible officer for the Covid-19 vaccination programme in Bolton, and Clinical Director of Commissioning at Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “While some refugees and asylum seekers are registered with Bolton GP practices, we know that many are not and we didn’t want this to be a barrier to them getting their life-saving Covid-19 vaccination.

“Bolton GP Federation has now held a number of pop-up or walk-in clinics to reach those communities for whom location of vaccination clinics or having to pre-book an appointment is preventing them from getting vaccinated.

“As senior responsible officer for the overall programme in Bolton, I have pledged to ensure that every person who is eligible has access to their vaccination and if this means we make vaccinations more accessible via a variety of locations, venues or formats, then I am fully supportive of this.”

In addition to the refugee and asylum seeker community, the clinic was also open to people registered at 13 GP practices in the Central Primary Care Network who hadn’t yet received their first dose AND were either aged 50 or over, registered carers, shielding or living with a long term health condition.

The clinic was for first doses only and people waiting for their second dose are reminded that they will be contacted when it is their turn.

The full list of GP practices taking part in the clinic was:

Deane Medical Centre, Dr Loomba, Dr Zarrouk, Beehive Surgery, Orient House Medical Centre, Dr Dakshina-Murthi, Dr Sidda, Al Fal Medical Group, Deane Clinic, 3D Medical Centre, Bolton General Practice, Bolton Medical Centre, The Olive Family Practice.

Each practice is linked to a Primary Care Network that is operated by Bolton GP Federation.

Michael Smith, chief officer of Bolton GP Federation, said: “We’ve had a great response to the numerous pop-up clinics; from the community groups offering to host the clinics, the volunteers helping us to run them and the patients turning up to get their vaccination. It was really encouraging to see so many people take up this opportunity to get their vaccination at BRASS, and we’ll be back again soon to do more.”

Chair of BRASS, Patricia Holmes, added: “BRASS is proud to work with Bolton CCG and Bolton GP Federation in partnership to deliver this vital service to our families. We would urge anyone who has not yet been vaccinated to take the opportunity to have the jab if it is offered to them.”

The Covid-19 vaccination programme is being led nationally by NHS England, and Bolton CCG is managing arrangements at a local level.

Vaccination of residents is according to a priority list, as set out by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), based on age and vulnerability of people and the risk of them becoming seriously ill and dying from Covid-19.

Bolton is currently vaccinating people aged 50 and over, anyone with a long term health condition, carers, and people who are shielding.

Anyone not registered with a GP can find more information on the NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/gps/how-to-register-with-a-gp-surgery/

The full list of regular vaccination sites in Bolton:

  • Tonge Moor Health Centre – including people from Turton PCN
  • Lever Chambers Health Centre – including people from Rumworth PCN, Central PCN and Farnworth and Kearsley PCN
  • Breightmet Health Centre – including people from Breightmet and Little Lever PCN
  • Peter House Surgery – including people from Westhoughton PCN
  • Waters Meeting Health Centre – including people from Halliwell PCN, plus those registered at Bolton Community Practice in Horwich
  • Avondale Health Centre – including people from Chorley Roads PCN
  • Horwich RMI – including people from Kildonan House Surgery and Pike View Medical Centre
  • Hootons Pharmacy at the Bolton Wanderers, Horwich – including people who receive a letter to book through the national service
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