Liverpool vaccine equity programme marks key milestone with celebratory learning day

News article 10 Jun 2022
Image of a young woman on a leafy avenue

An innovative community-led programme with an ambition to halve levels of vaccine inequity in Liverpool has hosted a celebratory learning event to share and reflect on learnings from the project and to advocate for a more integrated, community led approach to tackling health inequalities.

Developed to support people locally with positive, practical interventions to overcome barriers to vaccine uptake The Liverpool Vaccine Equity pilot project for Liverpool City Council leverages global health learnings and is driven by Community Innovation Teams. It brings together organisations including iiCON: Infection Innovation Consortium, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), Central Liverpool Primary Care Network (CLPCN), Hitch Marketing, and Capacity Development International.

During the learning event, the programme welcomed over 60 community health champions and volunteers, healthcare professionals, residents and community stakeholders to The Florrie in Liverpool to share and reflect on learnings from the programme and outline plans for the future expansion of the project.

The event celebrated the impact of the Community Innovation Teams (CITs) who are using local data to support communities overcome barriers to vaccination, with a showcase of activity from each CIT. It featured a performance by Gambian artist and community activist Nazeem, while speakers included Liverpool’s Director of Public Health Professor Matt Ashton, and international public health professional, Doctor Lilian Otiso, Director of LVCT Health Kenya - a longstanding partner with LSTM, who is responsible for designing and delivering large scale community health programmes across Kenya. 

The event also featured positive good news video stories from the community for the community, filmed by award winning film makers Brightmoon Media, in inner city areas of Liverpool from vaccinated men and women and a powerful pop-up photo exhibition “I did it for” by Liverpool photographer Jane MacNeil. The exhibition reveals the motivation of men and women who chose to get vaccinated in inner city Liverpool, where uptake has been low compared to other areas of the city. The portraits draw attention to the resilience of local communities and speak of trust, friendship, family, and collective responsibility.

These innovations were developed by the CITs to produce positive, localised messaging, tackling issues of confidence, complacency and collective responsibility.

Liverpool has one of the highest levels of vaccine hesitancy in the UK, with the fifth lowest uptake of the first dose of the vaccine within the eight English Core Cities. Only 70 per cent of people aged 18 and above received their first dose of the COVID vaccine, with stark disparities in vaccine uptake across different demographic groups. The programme’s ambition is to halve the gap in vaccine uptake between the highest and lowest uptake figures in the city.

Multidisciplinary Community Innovation Teams from the Central Liverpool Primary Care Network have been formed and trained to support the delivery and rollout of the programme within their communities. These multidisciplinary teams include primary care providers, community mobilisers from target populations, community champions, public health and trusted messengers including micro community-based influencers.

Miriam Taegtmeyer, Professor of Global Health at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, who is leading the programme, said: “Our learning event was a wonderful opportunity to mark the progress the programme has made to date, and celebrate the work of our committed and passionate Community Innovation Teams. It was a brilliant day and fantastic to see such a strong turnout from across our stakeholder groups and communities.

“Since launching our programme, we have successfully piloted the project across key areas in Liverpool with high levels of vaccine hesitancy. We are looking forward to harnessing this learning and expanding the programme to reach new communities in the Liverpool City Region where barriers to uptake are driving vaccine inequality.”

The Liverpool Vaccine Equity programme was piloted in Central Liverpool Primary Care Network (PCN).  There are plans to scale this up to three other primary care networks with the highest levels of deprivation in Liverpool. Target populations include white males aged under 50 years old, women of childbearing age, and unvaccinated BAME populations across Liverpool.  

Through the programme, academics in social science and health systems with experience addressing inequalities and delivering public health interventions in some of the most deprived communities in the world have worked with primary health care teams, industry representatives, and social marketing experts to support public health and behaviour change leaders in Liverpool City Council.