Vaccine questions? Ask the professionals

    NHS covid vaccination sign

    Local people with questions and concerns about Covid vaccines will be able to talk about them with health professionals from Lambeth at an online meeting on Monday (22 March).

    Sonia Winifred, Lambeth council’s cabinet member for equalities and culture will facilitate the meeting from 6 to 7.30pm with a panel of from the council, Public Health England and the NHS.

    The event, “It’s time to talk about the vaccines”, will be jointly hosted by the health umbrella body, Lambeth Together, the local NHS and the council.

    Announcing the event, Lambeth council said that confidence in the vaccines is growing, with more than 24 million people across the UK having now received their first jab.

    “But among some ethnic minority communities, there is reluctance to receive the jab,” it said.

    Councillor Winifred said: “While many have jumped at the chance to protect themselves by getting their vaccine, many are more cautious.

    “People from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities have been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and I understand that some will be unsure or still have questions about the vaccine. 

    “It is part of my responsibility as lead for equalities in our borough to make sure that nobody is left behind and so I hope that anyone from these communities will feel comfortable to bring their questions along.

    “We want to ensure that our residents feel valued, and their views are listened to.

    “Our panel is best placed to answer people’s questions about receiving the vaccines available, putting our communities in the best position to make an informed choice when the vaccine is offered to them.”

    Panel members will include:

    • Professor Kevin Fenton, regional director of Public Health England
    • Dr Di Aitken, a Lambeth GP
    • Dr Ray Chaudhuri, clinical director of the Parkinson Foundation Centre of Excellence, King’s College London
    • The Reverend Ivelaw Bowman – St Andrew’s Church, Stockwell
    • Dr Hiten Dodhia, consultant in public health, Lambeth Council
    • Juliet Amoa, assistant director community health and engagement, Lambeth Council

    Cllr Winifred said: “We are asking for residents to submit their questions before the event so our panel has a chance to answer fully.

    “But the most important thing for us is that all voices are heard.

    “Whatever concerns or worries you have about the vaccine programme, this is an opportunity to have them addressed by people who are best placed to give you factual information.”

    You can sign up to attend, and submit a question in advance, via Eventbrite.

    The online event came as an NHS provider, Cygnet Health Care, launched a video campaign – #ihadthevaccine – to counter misinformation about Covid vaccines.

    It said the rate of infections and Covid deaths have been disproportionately high among minorities.

    The aim of the campaign is “to listen and share information to help people make informed choices”.

    A video features individual Cygnet Health Care staff from different backgrounds, who reinforce the message in their own languages.

    Lloyd Curtis, a staff member at Cygnet Hospital in Blackheath, said: “Taking the vaccine is important for the safety of not only myself but also my family and the people that I work with and support on a daily basis.

    “I researched, I listened, I talked to professionals and I was able to make an informed decision.”

    Cygnet’s Raf Hamaizia, who championed the initiative, said: “Taking part in this co-produced campaign is something that has been both meaningful and illuminating.

    “This was filmed by people with lived experience from a BAME background, talking to BAME staff about an important issue that impacts us all.”

    Beatrice Nyamande, Cygnet’s deputy operations director, said the feedback from the video had been positive. 

    “We are not using the video to force people to have the vaccine,” she said. “It is more of a peer-to-peer message, appealing to people, saying: ‘Look, I’ve had the vaccine and you can have it too’.

    “Some people believe in what they’ve read on social media and myths and don’t listen to science.

    “It’s really important to listen to their concerns and help them understand the science so they can make an informed decision rather than basing their decisions on social media.

    “Having the vaccine is ultimately going to save their lives and the lives of others as well.”

    Nyamande said the fundamental point of the video is for everyone to reflect on what they are doing and consider taking the vaccine “because that’s what you do when you care for people and you love them.”

    Cygnet Health Care provides specialised mental health services for the NHS and local authorities.