Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi says he is ‘very concerned’ about levels of vaccination in BAME communities and urges social media companies to do more to tackle anti-vax content
- Nadhim Zahawi said he is ‘very concerned’ at jab uptake in some communities
- He said Covid will spread like ‘wildfire’ in communities which do not get the jab
- He said social media firms are tackling anti-vax content but ‘can always do more’
Nadhim Zahawi today said he is ‘very concerned’ at levels of vaccine uptake in some BAME communities as he urged social media firms to do more to tackle anti-vax content.
The Vaccines Minister warned that if ‘one particular community remains unvaccinated, then the virus will seek them out and it will go through that community like wildfire’.
He insisted the Government is already working with social media companies to tackle disinformation and conspiracy theories but ‘we can always do more’.
His comments came after the Royal College of General Practitioners called for a high-profile national campaign to support the effort to increase coronavirus vaccine uptake in some BAME communities.
A recent survey by the college found that 94 per cent of GPs are experiencing a high uptake of the vaccine appointments being offered.
But its analysis of NHS England vaccination data shows 90.6 per cent of all recipients of coronavirus vaccines so far have been white.
The college said that ‘comparing uptake with other ethnicities shows that people of mixed ethnicity, Asian and black are, respectively, approximately only 33, 47 and 64 per cent as likely to receive the vaccine as white people’.
Nadhim Zahawi today said he is ‘very concerned’ at vaccine uptake in some BAME communities as he urged social media firms to do more to tackle anti-vax content
Asked how concerned the Government is about the takeup levels, Mr Zahawi told Sophy Ridge on Sky News: ‘Very concerned. If you look at the ONS data, vaccine acceptance in the UK is incredibly high which is very positive; 85 per cent of the adult population say they will very likely take the vaccine but the 15 per cent that are vaccine hesitant skew heavily towards BAME communities and especially Afro-Caribbean, black communities and of course other Asian and BAME communities.
‘So, the NHS, throughout the whole deployment programme, we have a standard daily equality section that we go through and make sure we are targeting both with the national message, the regional message and then the local message, the hyper-local message, engaging with those faith leaders, community leaders.’
He added: ‘If one particular community remains unvaccinated, then the virus will seek them out and it will go through that community like wildfire and that’s not something any of us wish to see which is why we are spending a lot of time and a lot of resource in this area and you’ll hear more on this from me in the coming days as well.’
The Vaccines Minister said efforts to increase uptake would not force vaccinations ‘down people’s throats’ and that it would succeed through ‘persuasion’.
Asked if social media companies could help by doing more to combat anti-vax content, Mr Zahawi said the firms are ‘doing quite a bit but we are continuing to work with them’.
He said: ‘We have set up a unit across government that looks at all these anti-vax messages and alerts the social media platforms to them to help take them down as quickly as possible.
‘We want them to do as much as they can as quickly as they can and we continue to work with them very closely but we can always do more because there’s too much – I can tell you from my own community, I look at the Middle Eastern community, at the conspiracy theories.’