Doctors have expressed fears over ‘fake news’ causing BAME people to reject the Covid vaccine over claims that the jabs contain alcohol or meat and can alter patients’ DNA.
Dr Harpreet Sood, who is NHS England’s Associate Chief Clinical Information Officer, said language and cultural boundaries are partly responsible for the false material.
The practising doctor is working on an NHS anti-disinformation campaign with South Asian influencers and religious leaders to disprove myths about the jab.
It follows research from last month suggesting that people from minority ethnic backgrounds are significantly less likely to take the Covid vaccine.
Dr Harpreet Sood (pictured), who is NHS England’s Associate Chief Clinical Information Officer, said language and cultural boundaries are partly responsible for the false material
Dr Sood told the BBC: ‘We need to be clear and make people realise there is no meat in the vaccine, there is no pork in the vaccine, it has been accepted and endorsed by all the religious leaders and councils and faith communities.’
He added: ‘We’re trying to find role models and influencers and also thinking about ordinary citizens who need to be quick with this information so that they can all support one another because ultimately everyone is a role model to everyone.’
False information was reportedly shared on social media and WhatsApp, wrongly claiming the vaccine contains meat or alcohol.
Footage posted to YouTube and seen by MailOnline also falsely purported that the jab could ‘affect black people’s DNA’.
Dr Samara Afzal, who works in Dudley, West Midlands, said: ‘We’ve been calling all patients and booking them in for vaccines but the admin staff say when they call a lot of the South Asian patients they decline and refuse to have the vaccination.’
A recent study showed three-quarters (76 per cent) of the British public would take a Covid-19 jab if advised to by their GP or health professional, according to polling for the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH).
This fell to 57 per cent of people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds who would be likely to, compared with 79 per cent of white respondents.
Confidence was lowest among respondents of Asian ethnicity, with 55 per cent likely to say yes to a jab.
It follows research from last month suggesting that people from minority ethnic backgrounds are significantly less likely to take the Covid vaccine (file photo)
The RSPH previously said there was an issue with anti-vaccination messages being ‘targeted at different groups, including different ethnic or religious communities’, adding that these groups ‘continue to be most at risk of getting ill and most at risk of dying’.
And 70 per cent of the lowest earners were likely to say yes to a vaccine, compared with 84 per cent of the highest earners.
Men were more likely to get the jab than women, and 14 per cent of Londoners said they would be ‘very unlikely’ to get vaccinated – the highest proportion in the UK.
Overall, just 8 per cent of those surveyed said they would be very unlikely to take a coronavirus vaccine.
BAME respondents who said they were not willing to be vaccinated were open to offers of further health information from their GP.
A recent study showed 57 per cent of people from BAME backgrounds would be likely to take a Covid-19 jab if advised to by their GP or health professional (file photo)
More than a third (35 per cent) said they would be likely to change their mind if they had more information about a vaccine’s effectiveness, compared with 18 per cent of white respondents.
RSPH chief executive Christina Marriott said: ‘It is highly concerning that both those living in poorer areas and those from minority ethnic communities are less likely to want the vaccine.
‘However, it is not surprising. We have known for years that different communities have different levels of satisfaction in the NHS and more recently we have seen anti-vaccination messages have been specifically targeted at different groups, including different ethnic or religious communities.
‘But these are exactly the groups which have suffered most through Covid.
‘They continue to be most at risk of getting ill and most at risk of dying. So the Government, the NHS and local public health must rapidly and proactively work with these communities.’