Media and government ‘must go further’ in encouraging vaccine take-up in BAME groups

Nick Kelly

The owner of home care group has expressed his frustration over the “poor messaging” around COVID-19 vaccines that is “failing to reach diverse audiences and encourage take-up” among Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups.

Nicholas Kelly (pictured), who runs Axela, a group made up of three home care agencies and a training company, says just 10% of his workforce – over 90% of whom are from an ethnic minority background – have chosen to have the vaccine.

He believes poor communication is to blame and has called for the government and media outlets to go further in addressing “vaccine hesitancy”.

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“The majority of our team is from an ethnic minority background, and although it’s helpful to see minorities represented on the news, the way to get through isn’t just to interview doctors and psychologists from ethnic minority backgrounds and expect them to resonate with everyone. We need to go further,” he told HCI.

“It is worth noting that within the BAME grouping there is huge diversity. For example, Asia covers East Asia (China, Hong Kong, Japan etc), South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh etc) and Southeast Asia (Philippines, Thailand etc.). With such a diverse spread one message, one target route isn’t going to resonate with everyone.”

A recent study by the Royal Society for Public Health found that uptake of the vaccine amongst the BAME community is significantly lower than amongst white/Caucasian communities.

The study revealed that three in four (76%) of the public would take a COVID-19 vaccine if advised to do so by a health professional. However, 57% of respondents from BAME backgrounds (199 respondents) were likely to accept the vaccine, compared with 79% of white respondents.

Confidence was lowest among respondents of Asian ethnicity, of whom 55% were likely to agree to have the jab.

Kelly suggested that there should be a stronger messaging around the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, in the same way that people are frequently told to “stay at home, save lives”.

Equally, he said there should be a “bottom-up approach” to communication, whereby community leaders are involved in the conversation.

“TV does its job for reach, but we need to be thinking about who everyone’s turning to and trusting at the moment,” he said.

“I always think that if your mum says you take something, you take it. I don’t like this word, but our parents, and friends are influencers. You need to start here. So, speak to the Deacon and Imam of the local churches or Mosques and empower them to give out the correct information.”

He added: “Speak to leaders at places of worship or community leaders. These are real world influencers. It’s the best way to engage with individuals on a level that promotes trust and understanding.”

Kelly said what would also help boost vaccine take-up among care staff, from all backgrounds, is offering managers and directors the vaccine.

“It’s a shame it can’t be offered to everyone in a care organisation such as ours – it’s only currently those actively caring on a day-to-day basis rather than their managers, so it creates a ‘them and us’ situation,” he explained.

“If your managers are telling you to do it but not doing it themselves, it feels much less compelling. It’s much more effective to lead by example.”

Tags : AxelaBAMEBAME groupsNicholas Kellyvaccine
Sarah Clarke

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