Prince Charles joins Covid vaccine drive, British Indians show high uptake

Prince Charles joins Covid vaccine drive, British Indians show high uptake
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Data made available this week by OpenSafely, a study run by the University of Oxford and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, highlighted the ethnic variations in the take up of Covid-19 vaccines. While there are concerns about the lower uptake within the UK’s South Asian communities, Indians and British Indians have been found to be largely positive towards the vaccines with 83.4 per cent of those eligible having received their jabs as of February 11. This compares quite favourably to 93 per cent for the white communities.

“Targeted activity may be needed to address lower vaccination rates observed among certain key groups: ethnic minorities, people living in areas of higher deprivation, and those with severe mental illness or learning disabilities,” notes the study, based on anonymised medical records covering 40 per cent of general practitioner (GP) practices in England.

However, concerns linger about the varying uptake due to some misinformation and most recently Prince Charles took up the cause to spread greater awareness around the safety and efficacy of the vaccines, having himself got his first of two jabs to protect against Covid-19 earlier this month.

Saving lives

The 72-year-old royal, who had tested positive for coronavirus at the peak of the pandemic last year, addressed a special virtual event organised by the British Asian Trust, his South Asian diaspora led charity which had launched an emergency Covid-19 appeal last year.

The Prince of Wales said: “It is clear that the virus has affected all parts of the country and all sections of society but it is also clear that there are particular challenges faced in particular sections of our society, especially in some ethnic minority communities.

“What saddens me even further is to hear that those challenges are being made even worse by the variable uptake of the vaccines, which finally offers a way out of the suffering of the past year… vaccination will save lives, will prevent serious illness, will protect our health service and will allow us to start to hope that things might return in some sense to normal for every member of our society.”

Dr Nikki Kanani, a GP and NHS medical director for primary care, addressed doubts around the ingredients within the vaccines.

“There are no animal products within these vaccines and it is absolutely safe to take them. It does not impact fertility and offers strong protection," she said.

Community drives

Several community-led drives have been underway across the UK to counter misinformation around the safety and efficacy of the vaccines currently being administered by the National Health Service (NHS) – the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs. Temples, mosques, gurdwaras and churches have been mobilised as vaccination centres as part of efforts to create greater trust within the communities.

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel is among the frontline Cabinet ministers regularly making visits to these religious hubs to reiterate the importance of people to get vaccinated when invited by the NHS.

“When you get that call from your GP, when you get your text message, come to your local vaccine site and take the jab and get vaccinated. It’s safe, it’ll protect you, it’ll protect your family and save lives,” said Patel, during a recent visit to a vaccination centre in Harrow, north-west London, with a significant British Indian population.

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