Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Dr Samantha Vanderslott and Dr Seilesh Kadambari discuss their collaborative approach to providing ethnic minority groups with information on vaccines.

Why is this important to us?

We have been struck by how COVID-19 has affected the health and wellbeing of ethnic minority groups disproportionately. Individuals from these communities are more likely to have severe disease requiring intensive care admission and sadly succumb to infection than those from a white ethnic background. This is independent of age, gender or socioeconomic factors. However, vaccine uptake has been low in certain communities and for lots of different reasons. These include specific concerns about vaccine safety, increased exposure to misinformation, reduced access to vaccines and historical distrust with institutions. Asylum seekers have cited negative experiences with authorities, and some don’t trust public health messaging related to vaccines. Central government often use one-way messaging, which will sometimes miss these groups. Promoting vaccination through celebrity adverts, videos via social media and community champions may also not reach disaffected communities who feel marginalised during the pandemic. We encourage a two-way dialogue in the hope that these groups can trust us with providing evidence-based answers to queries and enable informed decision making before getting a vaccine.

What are we doing?

We found approximately 200 community organisations online that provide community, religious or social support to individuals and groups across the UK. We approached these organisations to invite us to any online meetings being held during the lockdown in order to provide information about the vaccine, answer questions and encourage dialogue. Our intention has been not to overwhelm individuals with information and so we do not use slides or overly scientific language. The majority of our meetings are therefore spent listening to concerns or questions, addressing these directly and encouraging two-way conversation.  

We have spoken to organisations that support asylum seekers, refugees, interfaith groups and elderly ethnic minority citizens. Concerns have ranged from the risk of deportation by registering for a vaccine, addressing misinformation that has circulated in specific communities and discussing a range of vaccine safety concerns. 

Who is involved?

This initiative is conducted by Dr Seilesh Kadambari and Dr Samantha Vanderslott. We are based at Oxford Vaccine Group and use information and materials from the Vaccine Knowledge Project.

The Vaccine Knowledge Project has also worked with the British Islamic Medical Association to develop FAQs about vaccines and vaccine ingredients translated into over 100 different languages and available on the website. This resource has been shared through these online conversations and their communities. The calls are facilitated by the organisations that we have reached out to. We have benefited from having a medic able to address safety issues and health conditions and a researcher able to address vaccine policies and misinformation.

What works for us?

Most importantly, this work has highlighted the importance of connecting with individuals and groups directly. We ensure that every opportunity is taken to answer questions and that individuals can make an evidence-based decision on whether to receive a vaccine. The meetings, facilitated by community leaders, are held at convenient times for different organisations. For example, in the afternoon for an organisation supporting elderly women of South Asian background, in the evening after work for a group supporting asylum seekers and on a weekend before Ramadan for Muslim organisations.  It has been deeply humbling and thoroughly enjoyable work. Our aim has been to provide individuals with sufficient confidence to receive a vaccine and therefore ensure protection against a pandemic that has exacerbated disparities in these vulnerable groups.

 

By Dr Samantha Vanderslott, Oxford Martin School and Dr Seilesh Kadambari, Department of Paediatrics

More information

For information and materials on vaccination, check out the Vaccine Knowledge Project.

There are also plenty of other examples of good practice.

Similar stories

One billion doses: A moment to celebrate but not a time to be complacent

Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and Professor of Paediatric Infection and Immunity, takes a moment to reflect on one billion doses of the Oxford coronavirus vaccine released worldwide.

Severe disease, not mild infection, makes a pandemic – vaccines still offer our best hope

If the current high levels of protection against severe disease are sustained, the global public health emergency will be curtailed by the ongoing vaccine rollout - writes Andrew Pollard for The Independent.

Oxford vaccine reaches one billion doses released

The University of Oxford’s and our partners AstraZeneca have today announced that one billion doses of the ChAdOx1 nCov-19 coronavirus vaccine have been released, to more than 170 countries, marking a key milestone as part of the University and AstraZeneca’s joint vision to make the available to the world, on a not-for-profit basis for the world during the pandemic, and in perpetuity for low- and middle-income countries.

Oxford Vaccine Group among winners at NHS Parliamentary awards

Researchers behind the Oxford AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine have been recognised for their excellence at a healthcare awards ceremony.

Mixed Oxford/Pfizer vaccine schedules generate robust immune response against COVID-19, finds Oxford-led study

Alternating doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines generate robust immune responses against COVID-19, according to researchers running the University of Oxford-led Com-COV study.

Delayed second dose and third doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine lead to heightened immune response

Research on the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, also known as the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, indicates that a long interval between first and second doses does not compromise the immune response after a late second dose.