Cheshire and Merseyside NHS is teaming up with Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities to launch a campaign promoting vaccine safety.
Using insight from local research, representatives from ethnic communities will address questions about the vaccine in a series of radio adverts, posters and social media adverts planned across the local area.
Findings from the research carried out in Cheshire and Merseyside are also being shared with senior health and social care leaders, to help ensure everyone has all the facts around the vaccine and nobody gets left behind.
Wirral resident Carol Haque is encouraging others in the Bangladeshi community to take up the vaccine as the safest, most effective way to tackle the virus. Carol said: “I was relieved when I was offered the chance to get vaccinated as I know it is the best way to protect myself from COVID-19 infection. I can understand though why some people might be hesitant. Some people I know are worried about possible side effects, but I always tell them that thousands of people were involved in the vaccine trials all over the world and from many different backgrounds.
“I really believe it is the best way of keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe. This is even more important for men and women within ethnic communities because research shows we are more vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19. I encourage everyone to get vaccinated. It is the best solution for all of us.”
The research surveyed people across the region from ethnic communities to develop an in-depth understanding of their experiences of COVID-19 and their views towards the vaccination.
It found that concerns about efficacy and fear of potential side effects are among the top reasons why a third (33%) of minority ethnic communities in Cheshire and Merseyside are reluctant to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
Although overall uptake of the vaccine amongst the first four priority groups is now just under 90%, the uptake is lower amongst some ethnic minority communities, which the local NHS says is a concern, given the fact that these communities are being disproportionately affected by the virus.
Dr Paula Cowan, Wirral GP and Chair of NHS Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group said: “The NHS would not offer any COVID-19 vaccinations to the public until it was safe to do so. Nationally, we have now given over 17 million doses of the vaccine in England, and in Wirral that number is 128,633. It is clear from the scientific evidence that the vaccine is effective, with early signs suggesting the success of the vaccination programme is contributing to the welcome fall in people in hospital with coronavirus.
“We understand that some communities have specific concerns and may be more hesitant in taking the vaccine than others. It is more important than ever that we reassure people. We are already starting to utilise the data from the Cheshire and Merseyside research and are working together with local community and faith-led groups, charities and other voluntary organisations to address the concerns and meet the needs of different groups in Wirral.”
Dr Linda Charles-Ozuzu, Regional Director of Commissioning for NHS England and NHS Improvement and Senior Responsible Officer for the COVID-19 vaccination programme in the North West, said: “It is vital that everyone who is at a higher risk of infection has the right information and are reassured about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.
“Tens of thousands of people from the Cheshire and Merseyside patch, who identify themselves as being from an ethnic minority backgrounds and are eligible, have already had one dose of the vaccine and this is really positive.
The study, which was co-funded by Cheshire and Merseyside Health and Care Partnership, NHS England and NHS Improvement, Public Health England and Cheshire and Merseyside’s Directors of Public Health, surveyed 636 people from across Cheshire and Merseyside.