Haringey Council is working with Unity Xtra radio to host a series of live broadcasts to offer young people of Haringey the opportunity to discuss COVID-19 vaccination with health care professionals from the community.

Unity Xtra is an emerging radio station in London, established in Tottenham over 10 years ago, that focuses on engaging young adults with its varied format of programming. From social conversation to exclusive celebrity interviews, entertainment news and the latest music from the UK, USA and around the World, the station has a strong local following amongst youth audiences in Haringey and beyond.

Beginning on 20 October, from 6 to 8pm, a series of programmes called ‘Vax Chat’ will run every Wednesday for four weeks and will be live on-air discussions between young people from Haringey, health care professionals and the Unity Xtra crew. The programmes will focus on different vaccine-related themes each week. The broadcasts will additionally be live streamed on Instagram. Members of the public can put forward their questions and comments on social media.

Since the rollout of the vaccine programme in December 2020, 90% of eligible people in the UK have had their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine and over 80% have had both doses.  We know that the vaccine is effective and has to date saved thousands of lives in the UK. However, uptake has been lower in certain parts of Haringey as with some other London boroughs, and this is particularly the case with younger people.

The series of live discussions will give local young people a chance to speak directly to a doctor or health care professional from the community to put forward their viewpoints and learn the facts. The intention is to help them to make an informed choice about what is best for them.

Dr Will Maimaris, Director of Public Health at Haringey Council said: “We know that many young people are still undecided about the COVID-19 vaccine.  There has been a lot of misinformation in circulation and unsurprisingly some people have got concerns. We want to give young people the opportunity to learn the facts from a source they can trust, and to join the conversation.

“As winter approaches, it is vital that our communities are protected against COVID-19 and any new variants that may emerge. Being vaccinated will help everyone to play their part in protecting themselves, their families, friends and the wider community.

“I hope that many people will take advantage of this golden opportunity to join the conversation and learn the facts, rather than dwell in fear.”

Jermaine Ashbourne, Programme Manager at Unity Xtra said: “We at Unity Xtra are really happy to be taking on this important topic, through our Vax Chat series.  As a locally based radio station, with strong links in the local community, we are in tune with youth culture and engage on everything that is important to our audience.

“COVID-19 has hit our communities really hard during the pandemic and Haringey continues to suffer from its effects. There has been a strong push for people everywhere to get vaccinated, and combined with lots of conflicting information, some of our listeners are very much undecided about whether to get vaccinated or not.

“We want to provide a platform for our listeners to talk directly to medical professionals they can trust, to get clear answers about COVID-19 vaccination. We are looking forward to the debate and hope that this gives our audience the information they need to make an informed choice for themselves.”

You can join the conversation by visiting www.UnityXtra.com on Wednesday 20 October between 6-8pm and the following three Wednesdays.

You can also post your questions and comments on Instagram and Twitter through @UnityXtra and include #FactsNotFear

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