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COVID-19: BAME groups far less likely to take coronavirus vaccine, SAGE finds

People from minority ethnic backgrounds are far less likely to take the coronavirus vaccine, according to documents from the government’s scientific advisers.

An undated document released by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) found vaccine hesitancy was highest in Black or Black British groups, with 72% stating they were unlikely/very unlikely to get the jab.

Pakistani/Bangladeshi groups were the next most hesitant, with 42% unlikely/very unlikely to be vaccinated.

Other White ethnic groups, including Eastern European communities, also had higher levels of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy than White UK/White Irish ethnicity.

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Coronavirus worries for BAME people

Among the barriers to the vaccine uptake are the perception of risk, low confidence in the jab, and lack of endorsement from trusted providers and community leaders, the paper said.

It said to overcome the barriers, “multilingual, non-stigmatising communications should be produced and shared”.

These would include “vaccine offers and endorsements from trusted sources to increase awareness and understanding and to address different religious and cultural concerns”.

Leeds-based Imam Qari Asim, who is chair of the Mosque and Imams National Advisory Board, is running a campaign to encourage Muslim communities to take the coronavirus vaccine and dispel some of the myths around the procedure.

He cited misinformation being spread by far-right groups, as well as religious concerns that the vaccine might contain gelatine or other animal products and is not halal – or that it can result in modification of DNA.

Around 100 mosques are using Friday prayers to raise COVID awareness and dispel myths around vaccinations.

Imam Asim said: “Misinformation can result in someone losing their life and it is one of the core principles of Islam that protection of life is extremely important.

“My message to Muslim communities is that it is our ethical obligation, moral duty to take the vaccine whenever the opportunity arises.

“Don’t miss the opportunity to take the vaccine and save lives.”

He said Muslim scholars, as well as medical experts, have looked into concerns from their communities but are “confident” the vaccine is permissible under Islamic law.

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