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.
Roseamma George, a senior NHS nurse and Sefton resident, said: “Just like with polio and smallpox, vaccinations are vital in eradicating viruses and keeping people safe, and it’s important that people know it’s not just their own lives they are protecting by getting the vaccine, but the lives of the most vulnerable in our communities.
“It is normal for people to have concerns in times like these, but so far millions of people have received their first dose and there has been no evidence of widespread negative effects.
“As an NHS worker I am incredibly proud to be able to continue to care for the people within the local community, and I urge everyone to help play their part in helping the NHS protect and save lives and get the vaccine.”
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 is lower amongst some ethnic minority communities, which the local NHS says is a concern, given the fact that these communities are being disproportionately affected by the virus.
Fiona Taylor, chief officer at NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS Southport and Formby CCG, said: “As we work through vaccinating our Sefton residents in order of priority it is vital that we address the concerns of those worried about having the vaccine for the reasons highlighted from this research.
“It is more important than ever that we reassure people and I hope that this targeted campaign across Cheshire and Merseyside will help, using the voices of those in Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups in the region to alleviate the concerns others might have and encourage them to get their vaccine.”
Dr Linda Charles-Ozuzu, Regional Director of Commissioning for NHS England and NHS Improvement and Senior Responsible Officer for the COVID-19 vaccination programme in the North West, said: “It is vital that everyone who is at a higher risk of infection has the right information and are reassured about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.
“Tens of thousands of people from the Cheshire and Merseyside patch, who identify themselves as being from an ethnic minority backgrounds and are eligible, have already had one dose of the vaccine and this is really positive.
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.