"when they call a lot of the South Asian patients they decline"
Doctors have expressed concerns over ‘fake news’ which is causing UK South Asians to reject the Covid-19 vaccine.
This comes amid false claims that vaccinations contain alcohol or meat and can alter patients’ DNA.
Dr Harpreet Sood said that language and cultural boundaries are partially responsible for the false news spread on WhatsApp and social media.
Dr Sood is working on an NHS anti-disinformation campaign with South Asian influencers and religious leaders to debunk myths about the jab.
Much of the fake news appears to be targeted at Muslims, who do not eat pork or drink alcohol, and Hindus, who consider cows to be sacred.
A Sage document found “marked difference existed by ethnicity, with black ethnic groups the most likely to be Covid-19 hesitant, followed by Pakistani/Bangladeshi groups”.
It follows research from December 2020 which indicates that ethnic minority people are significantly less likely to take the Covid-19 vaccine.
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.
“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.”
Dr Samara Afzal, who works in Dudley, said many South Asian patients have been refusing appointments when offered the vaccination.
She 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.
“Also talking to friends and family have found the same.
“I’ve had friends calling me telling me to convince their parents or their grandparents to have the vaccination because other family members have convinced them not to have it.”
Reena Pujara, a beauty therapist from Hampshire, said her social media has been flooded with ‘fake news’.
She said: “Some of the videos are quite disturbing especially when you actually see the person reporting is a medic and telling you that the vaccine is going to alter your DNA.”
A study by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) showed that 76% of the British public would take a Covid-19 vaccine if advised by a health professional.
However, it fell to 57% of BAME people, compared with 79% of white respondents.
Confidence was lowest among Asian respondents, with 55% likely to say yes to a jab.
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”.
BAME respondents who said they were not willing to be vaccinated were open to offers of further health information from their GP.
Thirty-five per cent said they would be likely to change their mind if they had more information about the effectiveness of the vaccines, compared with 18% of white respondents.
RSPH chief executive Christina Marriott previously 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.”