1000 Free Journeys to drive vaccination rates up in Luton
‘Vaxi-cabs’, were introduced in Luton in July 2021, at a time when travel was a barrier for some members of the community to get to vaccination centres for their COVID-19 vaccinations.
This FREE taxi service, launched by Luton council, is a transport initiative that is free at point of use to anyone living or working in Luton and is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination. This initiative was launched to address instances of vaccine hesitancy caused by lack of access to transportation. It provides a safe, convenient and easy way of reaching vaccination centres that prioritises the person, making it as easy as possible to attend any vaccination centre in Luton including pharmacies and pop-up sites.
The ‘Vaxi-cabs’ also address and alleviate inequalities in the system, making sure that anyone is able to call a list of approved Luton cab drivers, found on the Luton council website, and arrange for a visit to any vaccination site. They can accommodate up to five and have carried out journeys with whole families and entire households. These journeys can be either to or from the vaccination site as well as round trips.
Cllr Khtija Malik, the Portfolio Holder for Population Wellbeing (Public Health and Integration) at Luton council said: “I am so proud to have been a part of this project, this initiative has meant that we have been able to vaccinate more people in Luton and in particular those that would not have had the means to get to the vaccination sites.
“Groups like the COVID-19 Community Champions and Luton Council of Faiths were instrumental in advocating for the programme.
“The vaccine take-up rates in Luton and in particular the booster, is very low and that is why I am so delighted that this initiative is going to carry on. We need to remove as many barriers as possible and encourage our population to get vaccinated to protect those that are more vulnerable.
“It is such a tremendous achievement that we have now had over 1000 journeys since the initiative started and an additional 633 vaccines given as a result”.
Cllr Javed Hussain, Portfolio Holder for Population Wellbeing (Adult Social Care) at Luton council said: “I am so pleased that we have had the continued support of our local taxi drivers and companies in Luton, without their commitment and dedication this service would not have worked.
“One example of the programme working well was the journey taken in March 2022 by a group of Afghan Evacuees from their resident accommodation to a mass vaccination centre.
“The journey was booked and arranged by support staff working at the site and in total, six adults and one baby made the journey.
“The driver waited for up to an hour to ensure that they had all been vaccinated and could return together.”
Geraint Davies, Senior Responsible Officer for the vaccination programme for NHS Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes (BLMK) Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Partnership working is at the heart of the vaccination programme. The Vaxi-cabs service is another fantastic example of how the BLMK health and care system is pulling out all the stops to make it as easy as possible for everyone to get their COVID-19 vaccine.
“Getting vaccinated is the most important step we can take to protect ourselves, our families and our communities against COVID-19. The Vaxi-cabs service clearly provides support to our local population to enable them to get their life saving jabs. I’m thrilled that the Council is supporting the continuation of this vital service. I encourage everyone who may have put off getting their vaccine because it wasn’t easy or convenient to get to a vaccination site to use this free service to get their COVID-19 jab over the coming weeks”
As the national vaccination programme continues to adapt to the vaccination needs of the population, the Vaxi-cab programme will continue into 2022 to support the vaccinations uptake in Luton.
There are many opportunities for those who wish to get their first, second or booster vaccines in Luton you can walk-into the Redgrave Centre or the Old Post Office in The Mall and many pharmacies in Luton, with no need to book. Visit www.blmkccg.nhs.uk/drop-in for more information.