Sierra Leone Telegraph: 5 August 2021:
With more than 75 percent of the UK adult population now vaccinated for Covid, there is still a hard core of African and Caribbean people that are reluctant or hesitant to take the jab. In Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK, the City Council is working hard to promote uptake of the vaccines, especially across minority ethnic communities.
Through its Covid-19 Community Champions Micro Grant, Leeds City Council is providing funding to community and faith leaders and organisations to help develop publicity campaigns that will help encourage more people to come forward for the vaccine. (Photo: Dr. Babatunde Gbolade of the Nigerian Community Leeds, who is a champion of the Covid vaccine community campaign).
The Nigerian Community Leeds (NCL), UK in association with the Leeds African Communities Trust – of which the Sierra Leonean Community is part, have produced Covid vaccine campaign materials.
NCL are also organising a Zoom meeting to encourage those still hesitant about the Covid-19 vaccine to go and get vaccinated.
Speaking to the Sierra Leone Telegraph, Dr. Gbolade said that based on scientific evidence, the Covid vaccines are safe, and is encouraging all Africans and Caribbeans to take the vaccine so as to avoid hospitalisation and in some cases – death from the virus.
He says that those with serious concerns about the vaccine should speak with their General Practitioners who will give them appropriate information and advice, but warns that those refusing to take the vaccine based on social media propaganda are putting their lives at risk.
The campaign materials, include video clips, posters, and radio jingles.
Click here to watch the videos:
You are invited to the scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: Covid-19, Freedom day and individual responsibilities
When: Sunday, Aug 8, 2021 at 07:00 PM London
Join the Zoom Meeting here:
This is a very good initiative by our brothers and sisters in Leeds, UK that should serve as exemplar for other African diaspora communities in other parts of the world. It is rare to see a local authority working with ethnic minority groups to address such major public health issue.
Maybe we should copy the same approach here in our chiefdoms in Sierra Leone by working with the local chiefs to get the vaccine message through to the communities instead of relying on NACOVERC and ministry of health. Well done Leeds City Council, well done our African brothers and sisters. My message to our doubting brothers and sisters about the vaccine is: please dont worry, it is safe.
Kudos to the Leeds City Council, the Nigerian Community Leeds and the Leeds African Communities Trust for what is unarguably a valiant, concerted effort aimed at combating vaccine hesitancy within the city’s African Community. Indeed, getting members of this community to overcome their scepticism and opt for the protection that vaccination provides against the deadly Covid-19 disease constitutes a case of public/community health responsibility being taken very seriously in one of Britain’s great cities. It would be great if other cities in the country decided right away to copy Leeds’s example.
There is no doubt that their experience of institutional racism and cultural bias is the root cause of some of our African brothers’ and sisters’ reluctance to get vaccinated, be it in Leeds, elsewhere in Britain or across the world, including of course our home continent.
However, there is irrefutable and overwhelming scientific evidence that the vaccines currently in use do save lives. One would hope therefore that in getting the facts and figures relating to both the efficacy and efficiency of these vaccines from trusted and influential members of their own community, those opposed to ‘grabbing a jab’ will ditch their fear and distrust and give themselves a fighting chance, if they ever fall victim to the unforgiving and lethal monstrosity that has transformed lives the world over into an unending nightmare.
Has to be said vaccine hesitancy is universal. Even in countries like France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States, where in some areas the delta virus is running riots, as infection rates spike, and in some communities out pacing the vaccination programmes that was meant to slow down the spread of COVID19. The experience of one local authority in the United Kingdom, Leeds city council, to gets its African, and Caribbean residents to get vaccinated has been met with suspicious and increased scepticism about the safety of the vaccine itself. Whether is in the UK, or the United States, or Africa in general the major issues about vaccine hesitancy is the issues of trust. Trust in the science that produces the vaccine, and the governments trying their best to safeguard their population by what ever means from this deadly virus. My advice is take it if you are offered. For many people the question then becomes: Do you trust the medical professionals, the political class, or your family or friends? This question is like an animal with different heads. You don’t know who is doing the talking.
So the answers and reassurances you are seeking is like trying to peel a COVID19 onion. There is always different layers and by the time you get to the bottom of things, you are left with moist eyes, and none the wiser .Vaccine scepticism is everywhere. There are many ritual protest marches in Australia, Europe, Germany, France, the protest capital of the world, the UK, and the United States. Ironically the only place people hardly ever protest about been vaccinated is where the virus originally started is communist China. Pushing the efficacy of the vaccine, and the long term effects it has on those that have took it, is at the forefront of whether people feel comfortable enough to take it. I think governments and public health officials needs to re-calibrate the messaging.
According to Dorothy Roberts, JD, founding director, University of Pennsylvania programme on Race, science: “it’s not that Black people have an irrational fear of new medical technologies, it’s that they have an awareness of Long history of being disrespected, mistreated, and violated by governments and by health care professionals.” And that goes to the heart of the matter. At the end its only you who can make that judgement call.