Croydon organisation hosts online events to tackle vaccine hesitancy

An organisation is holding a virtual outreach programme aimed at BAME communities to provide information and challenge myths about the Covid vaccine.

Croydon BME Forum has organised zoom events, community sessions and video interviews with health experts to enable people from ethnic minorities to inform themselves about the vaccine.

Andrew Brown, CEO at Croydon BME Forum, said: “Covid-19 has disproportionately affected people from ethnic minority backgrounds. Many more are dying from the virus, yet many from these communities are refusing to be vaccinated when asked.

“We know many have concerns, which is why they are hesitant to take the vaccine, so over the next few months we will be engaging with local communities to give them a chance to ask experts about the vaccine so that they can make an informed decision.” 

A recent study by the University of Oxford and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that 21% of black people over the age of 80, who are currently eligible to have the vaccine, have been vaccinated compared to 43% of their white counterparts. 

Other research has shown that people from ethnic minority backgrounds had a higher risk of catching Covid-19 than white people.

Croydon has one of the highest BAME populations in the country, at 50.7 per cent.

Dr Agnelo Fernandes, a GP in Thornton Heath

Mr Brown said that a lot of the hesitancy around taking the vaccine came from mistrust of the government.

He said: “It’s not just a UK thing, it is a people of colour issue – that they do not trust their governments and the way the vaccine has been produced so quickly.”

Social media has also played a large part in the spread of misinformation.

Mr Brown said: “Social media is good, but it also has it’s issues as well. The amount of things that I personally get on Whatsapp per day from all of my groups that I’m in, the amount of videos I’ve been getting from certain doctors or certain pharmacists saying it’s not real, it’s real, it’s this or it’s that, there’s a lot.

“And from our local communities as well. From people who are adamant that they will not be taking it, and they tell their friends and they tell their families.”

The organisation’s next event ‘Covid-19 and the Vaccine – Should the Black Community take the Vaccine?’ will be held on zoom at 7pm on February 11.

The event will feature Dr John O Afolayan, Dr Nwakuru Nwaogwugwu and Dr Daniel Osigbe, as well as head nurse Marlene Johnson and Pastor Damien Luke.

They will answer questions from people in the community.

Two Covid survivors will also share their stories.

Dr Agnelo Fernandes, a GP in Thornton Heath, is working with Croydon BME Forum on the programme.

He said: “Covid-19 has caused higher infection and death rates among BAME communities, so it’s really worrying that so many in the black community are reluctant to have the vaccine.

“We understand there is a lack of trust which stems from racism and education and health inequalities, but if you want to help slow the virus, save lives and protect yourself you should learn all the facts and then make an informed decision about the vaccine.

“I’m really happy to be working with Croydon BME Forum on the Covid-19 vaccination outreach programme. I look forward to providing factual information to help people make informed choices. I hope we are able to engage with many people in the borough and dispel some of the myths that are going round in the community.”

Mr Brown added: “We’re not here to force people to take the vaccine, but we’re here to make them be more aware and give them a choice.”



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