Boston College Health and Social Care, Early Years and Schools and Access to Higher Education learners today received an informative talk from Professor Sir Jonathan Van-Tam on the importance of receiving the COVID-19 vaccination not just for themselves, but also for their families and local community.
Through a partnership with Lincolnshire Community and Voluntary Service, Boston College’s Health and Social Care Department have been working on a project funded by Empowering Healthy Communities fund from Boston Borough Council to research COVID-19 vaccination uptake in the local area.
The project supports the promotion of positive health messaging, enabling Youth Ambassadors in Boston to co-create a forum to encourage social action projects for their own wellbeing, and develop leadership training opportunities for young people.
As part of phase 1 of the project, Adam Tams, Boston College Health and Social Care Lecturer, conducted a mixed data survey with the College’s Health and Social Care and Early Years and Schools students during September 2021 to find out more about vaccine hesitancy. The anonymous survey asked questions not only on vaccine hesitancy but also regarding the behaviour in their own families around the COVID-19 vaccine.
Out of the 108 learners who responded 19 learners haven’t been vaccinated, with key reasons being, concerns about what’s in the vaccine, not believing the vaccine has been fully tested and concerns regarding side effects.
With a percentage of the overall learner population unvaccinated, the next phase of the project was to encourage those learners to get vaccinated. As a key figure during the pandemic, specifically with regards to the national vaccination campaign, Professor Sir Jonathan Van-Tam spoke to learners virtually about the COVID-19 vaccines and to answer any question they had. During the presentation Professor Sir Jonathan Van-Tam highlighted the benefits and importance of the vaccines, the risks associated with being unvaccinated as opposed to those who are, associated side-effects, as well as dispelling myths.
After the presentation learners were invited to attend a pop-up vaccine clinic hosted in the College to get vaccinated. The learners were also invited to become part of a working group to co-create a Boston Youth Forum, to address the issues that affect them with decision makers.
The ultimate aim of the project over the next year, is to maximise the youth voice within the local area, as well as securing future funding to mentor, support and train young people as aspiring leaders to co-create and lead the forum with other partners in Boston.
Boston College Health and Social Care Lecturer, Adam Tams, said, “‘Over the course of the academic year I have been working in Partnership with Lincolnshire Community and Voluntary Service to research vaccination uptake in the local area, initial research proves that vaccination uptake is lower than expected within the local area and so the project is now exploring initiatives to improve vaccination uptake across the area of Boston and East Lindsey, our first initiative is a positive health messaging campaign delivered by Professor Sir Jonathan Van-Tam to Boston College learners on vaccination uptake. The project will continue after this positive health messaging campaign, and we will continue to look at ways to improve vaccination uptake in the local area.”
Dr Batul Dungarwalla, lead for Youth Ambassadors at Lincolnshire Community and Voluntary Services, said, “It’s been fantastic working with Adam Tams on this project and we invite learners and young people across Boston to step up and work with us, our partners and funders to ensure their voice is heard, we thank Boston Borough Council through the Empowering Healthy Communities fund to support this work.”