Ford has teamed up with NHS services in Essex to build a bespoke van that takes coronavirus vaccines to vulnerable people. The specially converted Ford Transit will begin to travel across mid- and south Essex from next month, delivering and administering vaccines to people in areas of low uptake.
The vehicle, which was converted by West Yorkshire-based specialist vehicle builders Venari Group, has been fitted with medical-grade refrigeration, wifi monitoring capability and vaccine transport coolers. It also includes an integrated tablet for accessing and updating patients’ health and vaccination records.
Armed with this equipment, the vehicle will be sent across the region under the guidance of the Mid and South Essex Health and Care Partnership. Together with the NHS, the organisation will work with community leaders and groups to fill pre-booked appointments and vaccinate people in their local community.
Uptake of the vaccine has generally been strong across the UK, with NHS figures from earlier this month showing 92.3 percent of the population aged 45 and over have had at least one dose of the jab. Nine in 10 people aged 70 and over have received both doses of the vaccination, while more than two-thirds of over-60s have also had both doses.
However, Ford says it wants to “bolster” the vaccine rollout by helping to reach communities that may be vulnerable, as well as patients who may have difficulty travelling to vaccination centres. The new vehicle is designed to bring the jabs to them, creating pop-up vaccine clinics in the grounds of churches, mosques and other community venues.
“Over the coming weeks, this Ford Transit will make some incredibly important journeys as a vaccination van,” said Mandy Dean, the director of commercial vehicles at Ford of Britain. “Working with the NHS and community leaders to deliver this brilliant scheme and bolster the exemplary vaccine rollout, has been a privilege. Full credit is due to our conversion partners at Venari Group, who continue to work with us to make thousands of life-saving vehicles for the emergency services every year.”
And Dr Simtesh Patel, the clinical director at Benfleet Primary Care Network in Essex, said the van will help those struggling to reach a vaccination centre.
“Our goal of giving everyone an equal opportunity to receive this essential vaccine is now in closer reach, owing to the additional support from our valued network of community leaders, Ford and Venari Group,” said Patel. “This added mobility has meant the gap will be bridged for so many facing a struggle to visit their local vaccination centre. With this support, we enter an important chapter of our vaccine rollout with a renewed sense of hope and optimism.”