A new NHS vaccination bus has begun touring Greenwich, aiming to provide the lowest-vaccinated areas in the borough with easier access to Covid-19 jabs.

The converted duble-decker bus, customised and decorated in NHS colours, has so far visited sites at the University of Greenwich and in Thamesmead, administering vaccines to residents via booked appointments.

NHS Greenwich CCG say the Covid-19 vaccine bus is "a key part of our strategy in Greenwich to ensure that every who is eligible are able to access a vaccine.

One local resident, Asah Ali, was one of the first to receive her jab from the unusual vaccination site whilst it was visiting the Unviersity of Greenwich, and she said she was "delighted" with the process.

"I want everybody to get the jab, especially people who are Black or Asian.”

News Shopper: Asah Ali after receiving her coronavirus vaccine onboardAsah Ali after receiving her coronavirus vaccine onboard

The bus is a double decker and with two clinical booths inside.

Patients are taken in one at a time, keeping everyone socially distanced on board and in the queues, and all clinical hygiene standards and deep clean procedures are being followed.

Cllr Denise Scott-McDonald, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills at the Royal Borough of Greenwich, said:” We were pleased to launch our Covid-19 vaccination bus this weekend and see the Council, the NHS and other partners continuing to work together to tackle Covid-19.

“The bus will enable us to reach areas of the borough where take-up of the vaccine has been lower. It will also make it easier for residents to get their vaccine, especially in this first phase when we’re asking people aged 70 upwards, and other vulnerable groups, to have their vaccination.

“The Council is strongly encouraging everyone to get vaccinated as soon as it becomes available to you – it’s the best thing you can do to protect yourself, your loved ones and everyone in Royal Greenwich.”

A similar service has been launched via a Metrobus and NHS collaboration in Crawley, one of a growing number of 'Covid-19 Mobile Vaccination Units' in the UK.

News Shopper: Crawley's Metrobus and NHS creationCrawley's Metrobus and NHS creation

The bus has been adapted by Metrobus engineers to provide a self-contained, clean and safe location of vaccinations to take place.

Some of the handrails and seats have been removed to create more room for medical staff and their equipment, and the bus uses an inbuilt one-way system via the dual doors of the bus.

Appointments for the mobile unit are by invitation only and are booked by ABC’s GP practices so the public has to wait to be invited.

A Greenwich University site was the first stop for the Greenwich vaccine bus, before then travelling to Thamesmead for Valentines Day Sunday where staff and volunteers recieved special Panas Gurkhas lunches.

The bus will continue to target the areas with the lowest uptake of the Covid-19 jabs, in areas where evidence shows there is the greatest hesitancy about receiving the vaccine.

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The vaccination bus is expected to help out the NHS for the duration of the country’s vaccination programme. 

Prior to each visit from the bus, with support from voluntary and community sector organisations, there is targeted outreach work with local communities to encourage those eligible to book an appointment.

The success of the vaccination bus is the result of a wide range of partners working together to support Greenwich residents: South East London CCG, Greenwich Health (GP Federation), our primary care networks, Royal Borough of Greenwich, Charlton Athletic Community Trust, University of Greenwich, Voluntary Services Greenwich.

Speaking about the Crawley vaccination bus, Brighton & Hove and Metrobus Managing Director Martin Harris said: “We are exceptionally pleased and proud to get behind the rollout of the vital NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme, especially when it helps vulnerable people and hard-to-reach communities get their vaccines.

"I would like to thank Metrobus colleagues and our NHS partners, Alliance for Better Care, for their hard work in mobilising this service so quickly.

“Buses have an important part to play in the national effort against Covid, safely transporting key workers to hospitals, shops and other workplaces and being there for passengers making other essential journeys. We will keep working with the NHS, local councils and other partners to do whatever we can to help out.”

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Dr Niraj Patel, a south east London GP, also told the BBC that since receiving the new, more easily stored AstraVeneca vaccine, they had decided to start doing remote work with the newly designed bus.

He added: "Hopefully going forward we can keep taking the bus to the pockets of Greenwich where the uptake isn't as high as we would like."