REPRESENTATIVES of the Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot have come together to launch a local campaign to dispel fear and mistrust and encourage take-up of the Covid-19 vaccination.
The ‘Tell Me More Campaign’ aims to do this by signposting honest and accurate information from trusted local sources including medical practitioners, faith and community leaders, as well as ordinary people, friends and neighbours, who live and work in the community so that people from BAME communities can truly make informed decisions.
Henry Gilbert, former High Sheriff of West Glamorgan and Chair of the Campaign, said:
“It is reported that the take up of the Covid-19 vaccine is significantly lower amongst Black Asian and Minority Ethnic communities, which is very concerning because evidence shows that members of these same communities are disproportionately losing their lives as a result of this pandemic.
“There are many reasons why people might be nervous about taking the vaccine, not least because of some of the false rumours (‘fake news’) circulating on social media about safety concerns and ingredients.
“We launched the ‘Tell Me More’ campaign to redress this and provide people with the information they need to feel confident that the vaccines are safe, contain ingredients that are in keeping with their religious and personal beliefs and will help protect them and those they care about. Our campaign will be fronted by trusted sources including local medical professionals and people who are respected and known by those in our local communities.
“If you have concerns about the vaccinations please go to our website www.tellmemore.wales to find answers to your questions, download information in a range of languages and support the campaign by sending us your own videos or testimonials.”
To help inform the campaign the group undertook a survey to find out what the most common concerns about the vaccine were amongst people from local BAME communities and what their most trusted sources of information are.
Some of the false information circulating on social media include claims that the vaccinations are against Islam, and contain pork and/or foetal matter, or that they can lead to infertility, but none of these claims is true.
To coincide with the launch of the ‘Tell Me More’ campaign, Swansea Bay University Health Board’s vaccination clinic on wheels, was at Swansea Mosque earlier today. People from the Mulsim and other communities were invited by appointment to receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccination. The city centre mosque proved an excellent location with approximately 15 people attending this morning’s session.
The Covid vaccination programme is forging ahead, with more than 100,000 first and second dose vaccinations already delivered in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot, but there have been reports of a lower take-up among members of BAME communities.
A recent Public Health Wales study found that: “the largest inequality in coverage was seen between ethnic groups in adults aged 80+ years. Coverage for the combined Black, Asian, Mixed and Other ethnic groups in this age-group was 71.5% compared to 85.6% in the White ethnic group, a gap of 14.1%.” This gap started to reduce as younger age groups were compared but remained significant.
Dr Anjula Mehta, Swansea Bay University Health Board Medical Director for Primary and Community Care said:
“As a female BAME doctor, I am a huge advocate for the COVID-19 vaccine. These vaccines have been rigorously tested and are a safe and effective way of helping to beat COVID-19. I have had mine and so will my family members when offered. I know there have been some concerns regarding this vaccine within the BAME community, but I urge you to read the literature, note the facts and go for your vaccine when you are offered.
“Integrity of the COVID-19 vaccines are high as they contain no substances that might conflict with religious or personal beliefs, such as animal or foetal matter. The vaccine can also be administered during Ramadan as an intramuscular injection of non-nutritional purpose does not invalidate the fast. This is supported by many Islamic scholars. As a female BAME Doctor I have had my COVID-19 vaccine, please don’t hesitate to get yours when offered to help protect yourself, your family and the wider public.”