Exclusive: NHS drops ‘mass vaccination centre’ term over scare-mongering concerns
The NHS has dropped the term “mass vaccination centre” to describe its large-scale vaccine hubs over fears it will alienate the public.
NHS England will instead describe its 50 major vaccine hubs as “NHS vaccine centres”, City A.M. can reveal.
A spokesperson for NHS England said the shift was to avoid members of the public being deterred from getting vaccinated. They added that negative connotations associated with the term might include the prospect of encountering large crowds at vaccine sites.
Health secretary Matt Hancock used the term as recently as last Friday, telling the Commons he was “delighted” that a new mass vaccination hub was opening in Stoke-on-Trent this week.
It comes as 32 further large-scale vaccination sites opened across England today, including four in London.
A major vaccination centre at the Francis Crick Institute, with capacity to vaccinate up to 1,000 people a day, opened its doors alongside three other sites across the capital.
The Nightingale Hospital at London’s Excel Centre was one of seven major sites to open its doors as a “mass vaccination centre” less than three weeks ago.
The UK is currently on track to achieve the government’s target to vaccinate the 14.9m most at-risk members of the public by 14.9m, however ministers have warned that the milestone will require wide-scale take up of the jab.
The government this morning announced a further £23m funding for 60 councils across the England to encourage people to get vaccinated.
It follows concerns that vaccine take-up remains low among minority ethnic groups across the country, after GPs last week sounded the alarm about false information spreading online.
The government’s scientific advisory group for emergencies (Sage) has warned of a “significant risk” that vaccine uptake for Covid-19 will likely be lower among BAME communities, and called for barriers to uptake in these communities to be “understood and addressed”.
A Sage report released last week showed vaccine hesitancy remains highest in Black or Black British groups, with 72 per cent stating they were unlikely or very unlikely to get the jab.
Pakistani and Bangladeshi groups were the next most hesitant, with more than two-fifths unlikely or very unlikely to be vaccinated.
Nadim Zahawi, the government’s vaccines tsar, today said: “We want all communities to take up the offer of a free vaccine and I have been working closely with faith and community leaders to ensure those who may be at higher risk of harm from this virus know how they can benefit from a vaccine.”