The black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) community needs better information explaining how Covid-19 vaccines are developed in order to increase uptake, according to an academic.
Dr Perpetua Emeagi, a lecturer in human biology and biological sciences at Liverpool Hope University, said ethnic minority groups were deeply sceptical about how vaccines are produced and that the information about vaccine creation on official government channels was lacking.
“I get a lot of calls and emails each week asking me exactly how the mRNA Covid-19 vaccine is produced,” she said. “That tells me an informational need is not currently being met – and it’s vital we fill this void with accurate, appropriate and easy to digest advice.”
She said the limited information available on the government website were difficult to find and aimed predominantly at health professionals, not the general public.
“We need to do more to get this information out to those with real concerns about a vaccination programme they’re reluctant to embrace,” she said.
“Overall, when it comes to dissemination of information in BAME communities, I’ve been less than impressed.”
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi has said the government is concerned about the low uptake of Covid-19 vaccinations among ethnic minority groups, stating that if one particular community remains unvaccinated, the virus may “seek them out and it will go through that community like wildfire”.
The Royal College of GPs found that 90% of vaccine doses so far have been administered to white people.
Dr Emeagi said many people in the BAME community believed that the public were being used as “guinea pigs” for a new method of vaccination and that it might alter DNA – both of which are incorrect.
She sought to reassure those who were concerned, by stating: “Although this mRNA based Covid-19 vaccine is the first to be approved with this technology, mRNA technology is not new.
“The research into the use of this technology for vaccine development has been ongoing for decades and several vaccine candidates for other diseases have been trialled. If there were problems with the technique, they would have been identified long ago.”
Dr Emeagi urged the government to run a dedicated programme of presentations explaining how the vaccine is produced “from application, to emergency vaccine production, to clinical trials, to rolling it out, and what the outcomes are in individuals who’ve already received it”.
“People simply don’t understand it, and I feel if there was more awareness about the technology then people would be more inclined to get vaccinated.”
She said it was vital that adoption of the Covid-19 vaccination is as widespread as possible.
“We’ll never truly eradicate the disease unless this happens,” she added.