This week I held an important webinar on Tackling Vaccine Disinformation. We had a fantastic line up of speakers including experts from the NHS Race and Health observatory: Dr James Nazroo, from the University of Manchester and Yvonne Coghill, NHS race advisor. Faith leaders inclduing, Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Charles Kwaku-Odio, CEO of the Caribbean and African Health Network and Dr Wajid Akhter from the Muslim Council of Britain also spoke at the event.
It’s important that we dispel myths around the COVID vaccine, in light of the concerningly low uptake amongst Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups. Medical experts have warned us about the dangers of disinformation when the virus already has a disproportionate impact on ethnic minorities.
The disinformation which is spreading is patently wrong, misleading and designed to frighten people. Myths around the vaccine containing pork for instance have undermined the confidence among Muslim and Jewish communities, and this is simply unacceptable.
I had the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine just last week and I encourage everyone to take the vaccine when it’s their turn. My message to anyone who is unsure about having the vaccine: it is safe, effective and will save lives.
As part of my commitment to tackling disinformation, I recently led a cross-party initiative, which saw MPs from South Asian backgrounds coming together for a video to help drive vaccine uptake within the South Asian community.
Experts and faith leaders all agree that the Government must do more to create confidence and trust with minority groups who are suffering much further during the pandemic. Creating Government guidance in different languages and engaging with communities will help build trust and overcome vaccine hesitancy.
You can watch the highlights from the webinar here.