Clinic takes to the water to ensure no crewmate is left behind on vaccination rollout

A floating clinic has taken to the water in a bid to ensure that no one is left behind in the COVID-19 vaccination rollout. The launch was a joint initiative from local councils, GP's, housing charities, and Clinical Commissioning Groups.

Close to 300 people from the boating community were reached by the new addition to the COVID-19 vaccination fleet - which includes a mobile bus service for those on land. The boater clinic is an innovative way for health professionals to reach those who may otherwise have been forgotten - such as live-aboard boaters. The specially commissioned boat travelled the canals and waterways of Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon, and Wiltshire.

Speaking of the initiative, Fanny Gorman, a live-aboard boater and client of the service, said;

“As a key worker, I can’t say how much I appreciated the vaccine boat as I’ve had to work throughout the pandemic.

“I know boaters can have real issues registering with a GP and, personally, if I get a letter from mine, it's normally delayed getting to me because I have to use the GP surgery address.

The new initiative built on the success of a pilot flu vaccination project last year, and recognises the challenges that those who have accessibility issues or are not registered with a GP experience. 

Councillor Rob Appleyard, Cabinet Member for Adult Services at Bath and North East Somerset Council, said:

“These mobile clinics recognise the additional challenges that boaters can face when trying to access health care and are there to ensure everyone who would like a vaccine can easily access a clinic close to where they’re moored.

“It is really good to see how positively this has been received and how it could work with other areas of health and wellbeing support.”

Clinics are held on board the narrow boat, Litania, and see jabs administered by a team including clinicians, public health staff, and outreach workers.

The Litania is provided and driven by staff from the Canal Ministries organisation.

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