Ford has teamed up with the NHS and health leaders in Essex to deliver vaccines in the fight against coronavirus.
The initiative is focusing on communities that are vulnerable to Covid-19 and those who may have problems getting traditional healthcare services.
They include those experiencing homelessness, ethnically diverse communities, travelling communities and unregistered patients.
A Ford Transit has been specially converted to travel across Essex, as GP practices work with community leaders to safely deliver the vaccine in areas of low uptake.
The van will be a hub for dedicated vaccine clinics in the grounds of churches, mosques and other community venues.
The NHS and partners across the Mid and South Essex Health and Care Partnership will liaise with community leaders and groups to rally and vaccinate as many people as possible.
The Ford Transit has been converted by West Yorkshire-based specialist vehicle builder Venari Group.
Specifications include medical-grade refrigeration with wi-fi monitoring, vaccine transport coolers, a collapsible chair for administering vaccines plus an integrated tablet for accessing and updating health and vaccination records.
Mandy Dean, director of commercial vehicles at Ford of Britain, said: ‘Over the coming weeks, this Ford Transit will make some incredibly important journeys as a vaccination van.
‘Working with the NHS and community leaders to deliver this brilliant scheme and bolster the exemplary vaccine rollout has been a privilege.
‘Full credit is due to our conversion partners at Venari Group, who continue to work with us to make thousands of life-saving vehicles for the emergency services every year.’
Dr Smitesh Patel, clinical director at Benfleet Primary Care Network, said: ‘Our goal of giving everyone an equal opportunity to receive this essential vaccine is now in closer reach, owing to the additional support from our valued network of community leaders, Ford and Venari Group.
‘This added mobility has meant the gap will be bridged for so many facing a struggle to visit their local vaccination centre.
‘With this support, we enter an important chapter of our vaccine rollout with a renewed sense of hope and optimism.’
Venari Group chief executive Oliver North said: ‘The departure of the completed vaccination van from our factory on to British roads is something of a historic moment for us.
‘We have worked closely with Ford and the NHS in Essex to create such an important vehicle, which is set to make a big impact in the community.’
The programme will initially run as a pilot, but more vans could be on the way.