Dorset health and care organisations were recognised at a national awards ceremony recently for their work in communicating about the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

The team behind the vaccination roll-out locally was shortlisted for five NHS Communicate Awards, run by NHS Providers, the NHS Confederation and the Centre for Health Communications, Research and Excellent.

Communications teams from NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group, Dorset HealthCare, Public Health Dorset and the wider health and care system celebrated success in four of their categories:

  • Winner of the Working in partnership award
  • Highly commended for Best use of digital communications and engagement
  • Highly commended for Use of insight and data for innovation in communications
  • Highly commended for Promoting diversity and inclusion in communications

Entries for the awards described how the Dorset teams worked closely across organisations and with local community ambassadors and groups to ensure everyone knew how to access their vaccination.

Activities included:

  • Bringing patients with disabilities to check the large vaccination centre in Bournemouth would work for them
  • Providing and promoting dedicated clinics for minority ethnic groups, both at the vaccination centre and in the community, because uptake of the vaccine was lower for them
  • Working with Public Health Dorset and university colleagues to find out the reasons for low uptake and tailoring the communications to tackle this
  • Encouraging uptake by telling local people’s stories
  • Running a significant social media promotional campaign to target a range of age groups on the platforms they use

Evidence of the success of the campaign quoted in the submissions includes:

  • 1 million doses given in Dorset (at time of submission – now 1,154,588)
  • 80% of eligible people having their first dose (at time of submission – now 84.4%)
  • 98% patient satisfaction at our large vaccination centre
  • High levels of staff vaccination in Dorset NHS trusts

Pam O’Shea, Senior Responsible Officer for the vaccination programme in Dorset, said: “Excellent communications have been absolutely integral to ensuring our vaccination programme has been a success. Our teams have worked closely together, sharing skills, knowledge and resources to successfully reach our local communities.

“Our communications colleagues have been working side by side with operational colleagues to increase take-up of the vaccine and I’m absolutely delighted that their work has been recognised with these awards.”

Meanwhile, health and social care partners are continuing to work together to encourage uptake of the life-saving vaccine with targeted campaigns across Dorset.

There is still time to have your COVID-19 jab if you haven’t had one at vaccine sites across the county.