Vaccines: Government to 'blame' for low BAME uptake says expert
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Dr Agnes Arnold-Forster, a medical and healthcare historian, told Express.co.uk there is no “quick fix” to increase vaccination rates among BAME communities. Dr Arnold-Forster said there is a belief among over half of black minorities that their health is not equally protected compared to other groups as she reported 95 percent of medical professionals who died from Covid were from ethnic minority backgrounds. The historian pointed towards these “deep fissures” in healthcare trust as a few reasons why vaccine uptake in BAME communities are lower – emphasising that projects led by the Government may fall on deaf ears on their own.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Dr Arnold-Forster was asked whether she believes the Government or agitators within BAME communities were to blame for slow vaccine uptake.
She said: “I would say that the blame does lie with the Government but it’s in a complicated way and in a way that has a deep history.
“It’s not a case of just saying Boris Johnson’s actions over the last year have had this kind of outcome.
“As I mentioned before, this is about a deep-seated relationship or a breakdown in a relationship between the state and members of the BAME community.
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“And so any solutions have to take that into consideration. It’s not going to be a quick fix.
“It’s not going to be a case where the Prime Minister just gets up tomorrow, gives a speech on TV and great problem solved.
“And we’re going to need a real and concerted effort to rebuild that trust and to repair deep fissures between state and society.
“But that being said, I do think that the Government has a role here but I also think that it needs to be something that’s taken up by community leaders, faith leaders but also local healthcare services.
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“So there’s lots of evidence suggests that the best people to increase trust in vaccines is your local GP or nursing staff your local GP practice.
“So people that you already know, or you trust, or have a pre-existing relationship with, and they’re the best people in some cases, to improve this relationship, but again, as I said, this is also a deep cultural thing that has long historical heritage.”
Dr Arnold-Forster also looked at the MMR vaccine rollout and highlighted there was also an issue in BAME uptake too.
She suggested the current vaccine rollout is burdened by the MMR fallout and if the Government can do the COVID-19 vaccination correctly, it will set positive precedent for future vaccine rollouts meaning more uptake.
Dr Arnold-Forster also highlighted that the Government’s approach to the issue should not be a “one size fits all” as varying communities have different reasons for vaccine hesitancy.
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Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi said he was “very concerned” about the lower rates of vaccination among BAME communities.
During an interview with Sky News earlier this week, he cited that 85 percent of adults were very likely to take the jab but those in the remaining 15 percent were noticeably made up of members of the BAME community.
MPs from all political parties and from ethnic minority backgrounds also banded together for a video to urge people to get their vaccine.
The Government is also seeking other ways to bridge the vaccine gap by opening vaccination hubs near faith and community centres.
However, a report by the London School of Economics revealed that some religious members may think that it is not appropriate to receive a jab in a place of worship which could be counter-productive to the Government’s aims.
The same report found that Orthodox Jews living in the UK still had fears of vaccines left over by the controversy of the MMR jab and its false link to autism.
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