12 Mar 2021

The NHS in Cheshire and Merseyside is teaming up with Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities to launch a campaign promoting vaccine safety.

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.

Janine Iyanda, local resident and SHAP Operations Manager with the responsibility for managing the Black, Asian, Minority community development service in St Helens, is encouraging people within ethnic communities in St Helens to take up the vaccine as the safest, most effective way to tackle the virus and was surprised to hear how there were concerns among ethnic communities.

Janine said: “It’s vital that people from ethnic communities make sure they get the vaccine when invited.  I know there is a lot of hesitancy and misinformation out there and it’s worrying that people are being put off, especially those who are younger, but I believe that the vaccine is safe and effective and the best way to prevent serious illness from Covid-19.

“I’m certainly going to get my vaccine when I’m invited and I would encourage others to do the same to make sure that you are protected and you are also protecting family and friends around you.”

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 Michael Ejuoneatse, local GP and Medical Director for St Helens Clinical Commissioning Group, said:  “I want to assure people that the NHS would not offer any COVID-19 vaccinations to the public until it was safe to do so and there is clear evidence that the vaccine is effective. We have now given over 17 million doses of the vaccine in England and I have been busy alongside colleagues vaccinating local residents in St Helens.

“Now, more than ever, it is important that we reassure people that the vaccine is safe and effective. We will be using this research data to tailor our approaches to address the concerns of different groups and meet their needs including a targeted campaign which we will launch in St Helens this week.”

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.