Labour has today called for a plan to support the vaccination of Black, Asian and ethnic minority communities, amid fears over low vaccine uptake.
The call comes ahead of the holy month of Ramadan in April and fears that will have an impact on vaccine uptake amongst British Asians. ONS data shows that people from Bangladeshi and Pakistani backgrounds were up to five times more likely to die than white Britons during the second wave.
Labour is demanding the government put in place a targeted vaccine communications strategy, and address the impact of pre-existing health inequalities and mistrust on lower uptake among some communities.
Labour’s Deputy Leader Angela Rayner MP and Manchester Gorton MP o hosted a virtual roundtable meeting with Muslim faith and community and local government leaders in the North West today. They discussed the vaccine roll out and what steps the government can take to support community leaders, and ensure that as many Black, Asian and ethnic minority people are vaccinated as possible.
A survey undertaken by Oldham Mosques Council found that only 28% of Muslims would have the vaccine, and a significantly lower proportion of South Asian Britons aged over 70 have been vaccinated compared to white Britons aged over 70.
Speaking after the meeting with Muslim faith, community and local government leaders, Labour’s Deputy Leader Angela Rayner MP said:
“I want to pay tribute to the NHS, scientists, armed forces, volunteers and everyone working to rollout the vaccine across the country.
“But as a country we won’t be safe unless we are all safe – that is why the lower uptake among certain communities is so concerning and must be addressed.
“Not only does low vaccine uptake put lives at risk but spikes in infection and hospitalisations among people who haven’t been vaccinated could also threaten the unlocking of our economy in the months ahead.
“This crisis has had a disproportionate impact on Black, Asian and ethnic minority communities. The government must not let the vaccine roll out leave any community behind.”
Afzal Khan, Labour MP for Manchester Gorton and Chair of Labour Muslim Network said:
“The disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on Black, Asian and ethnic minority communities, coupled with the low vaccine uptake, is deeply concerning.
“Organisations like Muslim Council of Britain and the British Islamic Medical Association have been doing fantastic work on this issue, such as providing vaccine information in different languages and encouraging uptake within communities.
“However, it is the Government’s job to effectively engage and build trust with minority communities. No one can be left behind.”