More community and faith leaders must tackle Covid-19 disinformation, doctor says

16 February 2021, 12:04 | Updated: 16 February 2021, 15:26

A man receives a covid-19 jab in a vaccination centre in St John's Church in Ealing, London
A man receives a covid-19 jab in a vaccination centre in St John's Church in Ealing, London. Picture: PA

By Patrick Grafton-Green

A leading doctor has told LBC that more community and faith leaders are needed to tackle disinformation about the Covid-19 vaccine in BAME communities.

Dr Habib Naqvi, Director of the NHS Race and Health Observatory which aims to identify and tackle ethnic health inequalities, said there is a need for “resourced, tailored communications” towards black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities amid concerns over vaccine hesitancy.

He told Nick Ferrari not only are there concerns about the coronavirus jab in many of these communities, but “a level of resistance generally speaking with regards to other medication and jabs... also in relation to blood donations and organ donations as well".

READ MORE: Vaccines minister pledges closer work to encourage BAME communities to have jabs

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He said: “There is a key thing here for us to focus on and that’s building up the trust and the confidence amongst our communities to these interventions.

“There’s no community that’s hard to reach, there is a need for resourced, tailored communications and engagement that’s aimed towards the diverse communities and what we cannot have is a one size fits all approach.”

Dr Naqvi continued: "We've for the banqueting halls and sports venues and the local authority chambers as vaccination hubs but we've also not... got the synagogues and the mosques and the temples and the community centres and the black churches also as vaccination hubs and centres."

But he added that “more needs to be done”.

“We need to ramp that up and actually build the level of trust and confidence in the vaccination programme from the bottom up and not just a top down approach,” he said.

“More community leaders, faith leaders, giving out the right messages so that we can debunk some of the myths and the disinformation that’s been doing the rounds with regards to the vaccine.”

It comes after vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi told LBC he will be stepping up work with local authorities to encourage BAME communities to have a coronavirus jab.

Mr Zahawi said 11% of the UK population "skewed more towards BAME communities" has said it will not take up the Government's offer of a vaccine.

He said he intends to get those people "the information to make that positive decision to have a vaccine which is good for them, it protects them, it protects their families it protects their community.” 

He added: “What more can we do, we can share more data with local government which we are, so the directors of public health locally can see exactly the people who have had the first dose and are getting that protection and to help us reach those other people that we need to reach to make sure we get those numbers as high as we can get them.”