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Waiting their Turn – Vaccinations and BAME communities

Sofeena, from our A Better Life project, talks to us about the importance of recognising that feelings about the vaccine are specific to individuals and groups of people, not whole BAME communities.

By Imogen Parker · February 25, 2021

Our A Better Life project is delivered in partnership with SOAR and led by Sofeena Aslam. Sofeena works with a group of Pakistani women in the Burngreave area to provide financial advice and guidance, as well as social activities and trips.

“When I can, I attend the  Covid-19 Confidence meetings which were set up by the local council in Burngreave and Firvale to look at what organisations can do to promote the vaccine agenda and address the challenges in relation to COVID for the BAME community.   The national media is reporting a smaller uptake of the vaccine among BAME communities and highlighting the reluctance some feel due to cultural or religious views.   For this reason, local councils and central Government are keen to invest in promoting a positive message and information videos have been produced in all community languages. Community organisations everywhere are promoting this public health message in a positive way and medical staff from individual communities are promoting it via social media such as Twitter and Facebook.  For example, Dr Yasar Khan from the Manor and Park Group Practice in Sheffield is using Facebook to encourage Punjabi speakers to have the vaccine. Members of Parliament from different political parties and different South Asian backgrounds came together to make a video with the message “Please, when it’s your turn, take the Covic-19 vaccine”.  I and my colleagues at SOAR are getting this message out to people in our own community and contributing to the collective effort being made by individuals and community organisations.

In my own community of Burngreave, which is of Pakistani heritage I’ve been speaking to clients and their families and I am encouraged to find that the older people who were in the top priority groups have already had their vaccine while younger ones in priority groups 6 and 7 are  ready and waiting to be called for their vaccine.  Recently our local mosque was used as a vaccination hub and 100 people came to be vaccinated

When we talk about BAME communities we must remember that we are talking about very diverse communities of people and for some the Covid-19 vaccine may be more contentious than for others. At our meetings there we are aware that within the Afro Carribbean and Somali communities there is apprehension about the vaccine.  Representative from nearly all BAME communities attend the meetings and everyone is passionate about engaging with their communities to promote uptake of the vaccine.”