Covid-19 vaccines: 'Huge focus' in Camden on improving BAME uptake

Physician Associate Vidhi Patel helps Camden's vaccination effort.

Physician Associate Vidhi Patel helps Camden's vaccination effort. - Credit: Dr Daniel Beck

Around Camden, doctors and public health staff are putting a "huge focus" on improving vaccine uptake in non-white communities. 

A Swiss Cottage GP involved in running the vaccine programme locally told the Ham&High local medics are working together to make sure as much one-to-one advice as possible is available.

And last week an event run by the Healthwatch Camden group aimed to tackle the same concerns, with more GPs joining Camden's acting director of public health Piers Simey to engage with the fears people might have about taking the vaccine. 

Mr Simey told the event that so far around 30,000 people in Camden had been vaccinated.

He said: "Clearly the number grows daily and impressively. 


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"In terms of indicators of inequalities. We know that people living in the most deprived parts of Camden are less likely to take up the vaccine." 

He said local data shows that take-up is lower in Black communities.

Nasra Yusuf, a physician associate, administers the vaccine.

Nasra Yusuf, a physician associate, administers the vaccine in Camden. - Credit: Dr Daniel Beck

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Dr Tina Agrawal, of the Museum Practice in Holborn, said: "The first thing is to make sure everyone who is eligible gets the vaccine, to begin with. We will get more data about its effectiveness as this goes along.Dr Tina Agrawal. If anyone has any doubts or any questions, they should raise them with a health professional who'll be able to allay them."

Dr Daniel Beck, of the Swiss Cottage Surgery, told this paper more about Camden's vaccine progress. 

"The uptake has been really good," he said. "We are working down the priority groups really effectively. What I can tell you is that we have invited all 65-year-olds and older, and we have started to invite people 55 and older and those with underlying conditions. 

"One really important thing to talk about is the difference in uptake between various groups. That's a really big focus at the moment: How can we improve uptake in minority groups, which has been a big issue. 

"A large focus of the work we are doing now is to work with the council and people from the various mental health services to address the disparity." 

Dr Beck, who said he is delighted by Camden's low rates of Covid compared to neighbouring boroughs, talked through some of the latest statistics on vaccine uptake, dating from February 13.

"For the extremely clinically vulnerable and the over 65s, across Camden in those groups of people, 74.9% of people have had their first dose," he said. "That's really amazing. But when I break that down, only 60.3% of Black and minority ethnic (BAME) have had it." 

The medics all spoke of the importance of countering anti-vaccination narratives, which they said research has shown is more prevalent among BAME groups.

Dr Frances Baawuah said there are "excellent leaflets" being produced by community leaders, such as the British Society of Imams.

Dr Beck added: "What we are doing working with public health and Camden Council is trying to counter some of the anti-vaccine stuff that is out there. Working to support the work done on 'call and recall' to encourage people to come to their vaccine appointments." 

"Call and recall" is a policy whereby public health professionals and GPs booking vaccine appointments continue to try to persuade those they cannot reach in vaccine priority groups to attend.

Dr Beck said in his practice and others around Camden nurse practitioners and members of clinical teams are on hand to help allay concerns. 

Clinical pharmacist at the Swiss Cottage Surgery Shaimaa Ibrahimi with the Covid vaccine.

Clinical pharmacist at the Swiss Cottage Surgery Shaimaa Ibrahimi with the Covid vaccine. - Credit: Dr Daniel Beck

He said: "We are using members of our clinical teams as representatives of their communities. So perhaps people will be more reassured by people who look like them who are able to offer advice. 

"You're much more likely to trust public health information if it comes from someone who looks like you and understands you. The next thing is to work with health and social care staff to turn those people from sceptics to advocates who can go back to their friends and family and build trust."

The members of the Healthwatch panel called on members of the public with specific concerns about the vaccine to contact their GPs and discuss any needs or worrie.

To view the Healthwatch discussion, visit healthwatchcamden.co.uk

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