Like millions of others across the country, I have received my first dose of the vaccine.
A vaccine, simply put, is something that teaches your body how to recognise and fight off an infection. Vaccines have previously been successfully used to eradicate measles, polio and smallpox.
The Coronavirus vaccination programme is currently the largest of its kind ever undertaken in British history. There are currently three vaccines in use in the U.K. for Covid-19, each named after the companies or institutions that developed them – Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.
The data emerging about the results of the Coronavirus vaccines is simply extraordinary. In Israel, the country furthest along in rolling out the vaccines, amongst those who had received one there were 94% fewer Coronavirus cases.
Even here in Britain, hospitalisation and mortality rates are currently declining the fastest amongst the over 80s – who will have all received at least one dose of the vaccine.
The vaccines have the power to completely change our relationship with Coronavirus, restore some sense of normality allowing us to see our loved ones again and save tens if not hundreds of thousands of lives.
We are incredibly lucky – Britain is one of the least vaccine-sceptic countries in the world.
However, there is growing concern amongst medical professionals that vaccine uptake has been lower amongst Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities. By the first week of February, amongst those that were eligible, 90.9% of White people had received a vaccine, compared to 72.4% of South Asian people and 57.9% of Black people.
Coronavirus has already had a severe and disproportionate impact on BAME communities, with both case numbers and date rates per 100,000 people higher amongst BAME people. These figures are stark and devastating. This is why it is so vital that everyone from BAME backgrounds receives their vaccine when they are called.
I understand the fears, anxieties and confusion about the Coronavirus vaccines. It’s important to read factual information from reputable sources to keep ourselves informed, and to only share information we know is from a trusted and reliable source too. We all have the power, and the responsibility, to protect ourselves and to help slow the rate of transmission – and that is by having the vaccine.
All vaccines currently being offered have been proven to be safe and effective. They have gone through rigorous testing and must meet very strict standards in order to be approved.
When you get invited by the NHS to have the vaccine, please take it. This will protect not only yourself, but help to protect your family and the wider community.
We know that this virus has impacted BAME communities more severely. This is why it is of such importance that all of us take the vaccine when offered it, and tell others that you plan to do so.
If you do have any concerns or anxieties, speak to your GP or trusted healthcare provider for more information about the vaccine and encourage your family to do the same. Don’t be misled by the scare stories or fake news on the internet that put you or your love ones at risk.
Let’s move forward together and get vaccinated, so we can contain this virus, protect ourselves and our communities and get our lives back.
Chris Knight sits on Community’s National Executive as the BAME representative and the TUC Race Relations Committee. We at Community are campaigning for priority access to be given to essential workers to protect front line staff. Find out more here. For further information of vaccines, the vaccine programme and vaccine safety, see here.