Cheshire and Merseyside health leaders launch drive to help Ethnic Communities feel safe about Covid-19 Vaccine following findings from insight research

12 March 2021

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. 

Chester resident Sophia Minshull is encouraging others in the Pakistani Persian community to take up the vaccine as the safest, most effective way to tackle the virus.  The 53-year-old mum-of-two was surprised to hear how there were concerns around the vaccine among Muslims. She said:

“My son, who’s 18, is classed as vulnerable after surviving a brain tumour as a child, so he’s been invited to get the vaccine. His first reaction was not to have it because of misinformation he has seen, but we’ve since discussed it and I’ve told him it’s not just him that he’s protecting – it’s everyone around him. 

“I’m particularly passionate about encouraging women within ethnic communities to take up the vaccine so they too can be protected and to get the vaccine – it’s vital for not only themselves, but for future generations.”

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 in Cheshire is 73% amongst ethnic minority communities, which is a concern, given the fact that these communities are being disproportionately affected by the virus. 

Ian Ashworth, Director of Public Health at Cheshire West and Chester Council said: “It is clear from scientific evidence that the vaccine is safe. We have now given over 17 million doses of the vaccine in England. The NHS would not offer any COVID-19 vaccinations to the public until it was safe to do so and the evidence shows that the vaccine is effective.  

“It is more important than ever that we reassure everyone about how safe and effective the vaccine is. We are already working closely with communities across the borough to help build vaccine confidence. Our community leaders are sharing their positive stories about the vaccine, helping to provide the facts to community groups and showing how safe, effective and easy it is to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“We are acting on the information that our communities are telling us to help address the concerns with different groups and meet their needs, including a targeted campaign which we will launch across Cheshire and Merseyside this week.”

Dr Matt Tyrer, Director of Public Health at Cheshire East Council said, “The COVID-19 vaccine is our way out of the current pandemic and it’s so important that everyone comes forward to take the jab and receive protection against this deadly virus.  We are working closely with our communities to dispel myths and rumours, build greater confidence and listening to our residents to find out how best we can work together in breaking down any barriers. 

“The vaccination programme has been a real success story with nearly 153,000 residents in Cheshire East having received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, including 96 per cent of over 75s. We still have a long way to go and we need to continue to focus our efforts on those underserved communities, but with the commitment and dedication shown by the many working on programme, I am confident that the vaccination programme will continue to work at speed and provide assurance to  residents in booking and attending their vaccine appointments.”  

Eileen O’Meara, Halton’s Director of Public Health said: “We are really pleased with how the roll out of the vaccine in Halton is progressing, with nearly 45,000 people having received their first dose. 

“We know that the vaccines have been through a rigorous set of trials and meet the highest standards of safety. Scientific evidence also shows they provide effective protection against COVID-19 and we are beginning to see this borne out in local data.   

“However, it is really important that all Halton residents feel reassured and confident in coming forward to be vaccinated when it is their turn. 
“Through this research and the work that we are doing locally within our varied ethnic and cultural communities, we understand much more clearly the concerns our residents have and how we can work together to address them. This knowledge will be vital in ensuring the continuing success of the vaccination programme.”

Director of Public Health at Warrington Borough Council, Thara Raj, said: “It is clear from scientific evidence that the vaccine is safe. The NHS would not offer any COVID-19 vaccinations to the public until it was safe to do so and the evidence is that the vaccine is effective.  

“It is more important than ever that we reassure people. We are already starting to use the data from the research to tailor our approaches to address the concerns of different groups and meet their needs including a targeted campaign which we will launch across Warrington.”

Clare Watson, Accountable Officer for NHS Cheshire CCG, said: “It’s critical to understand and differentiate the concerns amongst different ethnic minority groups in relation to COVID-19 and their views on public health messaging. We will continue to work hard to gain a better understanding of ethnic communities so we can ensure we’re doing everything we can to address the specific concerns people have.”

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. 


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