On Tuesday March 16th, CORE in collaboration with Caribbean & African Health Network, held a national public event to engage the Black and Asian communities about COVID-19 vaccines.
Over 200 people across the UK attended the live event on zoom. The event was aimed at addressing common themes from a series of community webinars in order to shift the conversations and offer reassurance to people who are unsure about the safety of the vaccines.
Watch the recorded event
During the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been well documented that ethnic minority groups have been disproportionately impacted in terms of higher infection, hospitalisation and death rates. However, this disparity has not been reflected with regard to vaccine uptake, with figures demonstrating significant underrepresentation amongst these communities, in comparison with those from White British backgrounds. In order to address the underlying factors contributing to concerns about the vaccines, and encourage open dialogue amongst the communities we represent, the Coalition of Race Equality Organisations (CORE), held a COVID-19 Vaccine Event on Tuesday 16th March.
The event received over 300 bookings, and included a panel of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic health professionals, who provided detailed insight into their experiences of working on the frontline during the pandemic, as well as vaccine related advice. Vaccines Minister Nadim Zahawi MP, and Professor Kevin Fenton of Public Health England were also represented on the panel.
A number of issues concerning the vaccine were raised by the audience during the event, including the negative narrative associated with low vaccine uptake amongst ethnic minority communities; the lack of culturally tailored public health messaging; a sense of distrust towards the Government, domestic vaccine passports and ‘no jab no job’ employers; and why the Government had not specifically allocated COVID-19 funding to Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic led community groups.
A question poll (how likely are you to take the COVID-19 vaccine when offered?), was also run for attendees at the beginning and at the end of the event, to gauge whether the information they received from the panel, had impacted their decision to accept/reject the vaccine. Whilst only 37% of attendees surveyed at the beginning of the session indicated that they were highly likely/likely to receive it, this had increased by 17 percentage points (54%) by the end of the event.
Some of the post-event feedback we received is outlined below:
"As a Black Caribbean woman myself, it was so refreshing to see a panel including Black doctors and healthcare professionals. This event not only gave me the opportunity to learn more about the vaccine and its impacts on Black groups, it also gave me the opportunity first-hand to see the knowledge and expertise within our communities. It was inspiring and encouraging to see a fellow Black Caribbean, Professor Kevin Fenton, on the panel. I had doubts regarding the vaccine prior to the event, however this event has enlightened me, and has convinced me that the vaccine is safe to take"
"This event was extremely interesting, and I was very impressed with the level of information provided"
"The event and calibre of speakers was great. Thank you for organising a great event"
"Kevin Fenton totally gets people and communities, is, as always spot on with his wise words/actions/accountability needed now/always"
"A great event! Inspirational and powerful words by Nikki Kanani and Bola Owolabi. We can overcome these historical issues by embarking and continuing the hard work by all especially our community"