Royal recognition for COVID-19 vaccination programme

Walsall CCG’s work to promote vaccine safety among hard to reach communities has been recognised at the highest possible level, with a phone call from The Duke of Cambridge.

His Royal Highness, Prince William, spoke one-on-one with Practice Manager Shamraze Zeb, who is operational lead for the South 1 Primary Care Network team running vaccinations at Forrester Street Surgery. Sham has played a key role in organising pop-up vaccination sessions in local Mosques and Gurdwaras.

Sham and The Duke discussed vaccine hesitancy and the challenges faced by the Walsall team.

As a keen advocate for mental health, The Duke also asked after Sham’s and his team’s wellbeing, and acknowledged the hard work of NHS colleagues in Walsall and beyond.

Speaking after his conversation, Sham said: “It was fantastic, a once in a lifetime experience and I’m proud and honoured to have been chosen to do this on behalf of Walsall.

“The Duke was really complimentary about Walsall and was saying how much of a fantastic job we’re doing. The whole team is working incredibly hard to address the local inequalities that exist in our area, so it’s exciting to see it recognised at this level.”

In Walsall, it was identified early in the vaccination programme that uptake was lower among some communities, so Sham and the South 1 team decided to reach out into the local area, working with faith leaders to send a clear message about vaccine safety at a grassroots level.

Aisha Mosque and Darbar Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji were the first places of worship to host vaccination sessions, and other sites are getting involved in the coming weeks to help ensure nobody is left behind in the drive to vaccinate our most vulnerable residents.

Hafsa Begum, who took her parents to Aisha Mosque for their vaccinations, said: “We would have got them vaccinated anyway, but we know this is encouraging to people in our locality. It shows them it’s safe, and it’s definitely helped out.”

For detailed information about COVID-19 vaccination, please visit the Black Country and West Birmingham vaccinations service website: https://blackcountrywestbirminghamcovidvaccine.co.uk/