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Maidenhead Baroness urges BAME community to get COVID jab

A former Royal Borough councillor and the first Asian woman to receive a peerage has called on people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Baroness Shreela Flather, 87, from Maidenhead, says it is ‘distressing’ to learn that some people from BAME groups may be declining the jab.

Studies by the University of Oxford and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have found a lower proportion of people over the age of 80 from black and South Asian backgrounds have been vaccinated compared to white people.

Misinformation and rumours have been spreading online including fears that the vaccine is against faiths, or may include animal products.

The council’s lead member for health, Cllr Stuart Carroll (Con, Boyn Hill), called this misinformation ‘vicious and sinister’, adding it needs to be ‘stamped out’ by social media providers.

And Baroness Flather, who is from Indian descent, has urged people from BAME backgrounds to ‘think again’ if they have refused the vaccine for ‘whatever reason’.

“I had my first jab, and it was less of a problem than my flu jab I have every year. It took no time at all,” she said. “This is the only opportunity we have to stop this [virus] spreading, and I think we should be very glad that we are getting it [the vaccine]. It is your best chance of avoiding coronavirus. You should take it because you are very lucky to be offered it. It’s unbelievable that people are refusing something that is going to protect them from this disease.”

Cllr Carroll said that there is ‘nothing wrong’ with people having concerns and questions about the vaccine, but added it was ‘vitally important’ that all those eligible receive it.

“A situation where anyone is declining the vaccine is of profound concern,” he said.

“With this particular community, it is a concern that there seems to be a higher rate of decline versus other communities.

“The important thing here is to work hard to understand the reasons as to why people are potentially declining the vaccine.”

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