NHS appeal for all South West communities to take covid vaccine and save lives

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The NHS has appealed for ALL communities across the South West to take part in the coronavirus vaccination programme.

It follows the take-up of the jab in Devon among some ethnic communities being lower than in the overall population.

The latest statistics show that there is an 85 per cent take-up among Devon's white population, compared with a rate of between 63 and 76 per cent in ethnic groups.

Sanita Simadree, who is chair of the BAME Network for health and care staff in Devon, admitted she's had reservations about the vaccine, and she's not the only one.

Sanita hopes she can encourage other people from ethnic backgrounds to get vaccinated. Credit: ITV News

She said: "I've had a lot of colleagues and staff come and share their concerns about how quickly the vaccine's come onto the market, about the side effects and then about the misinformation that's been out there.

"So I'd say, you know, if you are hesitating like I did, get accurate information and then make that decision.

"I just can't wait to hug my grandchildren. It will be absolutely fantastic and the vaccine's going to allow me to do it."

The consequences of coronavirus can be more severe for those from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds but figures show that vaccine hesitancy is greater among those groups too. 

In response, the NHS in Devon has recruited ambassadors from a range of different communities to help dispel some of the myths and spread a positive message about the importance of vaccination.

Dr Manish Gandhi has been helping to dispel myths around the vaccine Credit: ITV News

Dr Manish Gandhi, a consultant cardiologist at the Royal Devon and Exeter hospital said: "I've had the vaccine.

"Having a slightly itchy arm and feeling tired for a couple of days is a price well worth paying for potentially saving your life.

"So when you get your call I would urge you to take up the vaccine. You will be protecting yourself, your friends, your family, your community. It's a no-brainer."

Local feedback suggests easy-to-read information in a range of languages hasn't necessarily been accessible to everyone.

Thus local health officials say they're adapting and widening the support available to allow everyone to make an informed decision.

"We are looking at whether we can have pop-up vaccination sites," public health consultant Sarah Ogilvie told ITV News.

"One of the areas we have been looking at is whether we can look at any of our local community centres or any of our faith centres to offer alternative models for those who may not feel comfortable going to one of our larger vaccination sites or through their general practice."

It's hoped that people in positions of influence can help challenge misinformation and increase vaccine confidence. Credit: ITV News

Torbay councilor Jermaine Atiya-Alla added: "I've met people across the bay who are glad and relieved that they've had the vaccine.

"It is of benefit for you to have your vaccine, it is of benefit for your family that you have the vaccine and it is certainly for your community as well. It's the only way we can actually, finally, get rid of this virus for once and for all."

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