COVID-19 vaccines - questions from the BAME communities answered


Concerns have been raised nationally about an apparent hesitancy from some people in black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) communities to have the Covid-19 vaccine.
EEAST is no different in having those concerns and, with the first phase of the Trust vaccination programme ending soon, the vaccination team does not want our BAME colleagues to miss the opportunity of a vaccine.

To understand some of the reasons behind the hesitancy, a few members of the vaccination team joined a recent Webinar aimed at BAME communities that was attended by colleagues from across EEAST.

The Webinar consisted of several guest speakers and panel members from BAME communities. Guest speakers spoke of their personal experiences of contracting COVID-19 and their fears surrounding the vaccines.
Questions were asked about the vaccines and suggestions and answers shared by the panel, which included:

  • Dr Bola Owolabi MB BS DFFP MRCGP MSc, Director of Health Inequalities at NHS England and Improvement
  • Austin Chinakidzwa, Specialist Heart Failure Nurse, Cultural Ambassador and BAME Chair, Cambridge Community Services NHS Trust
  • Ramesh Subbiah, Inclusion Manager and BAME Network Chair, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust

If you are part of EEAST’s BAME community it is hoped that these questions that were asked in the webinar (below) will help inform you about the vaccine and allay any fears you may have.
The mortality rate of individuals from BAME communities is three times that of white individuals who contract COVID-19, so please consider carefully -  and if you would like the vaccine, we will work with you to achieve this before the end of February.





How might the vaccine affect people with existing autoimmune disease, and cculd it stimulate their condition to make it worse in anyway?

The vaccine is safe to give but those with autoimmune disease may take longer to develop any immunity as their immune system is already working at full speed!

‘the efficacy is good, its safe, effective in reducing mortality and hospital admission’.

Always best to speak with GP or hospital teams for further advice.


Priority groups for coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination: advice from the JCVI, 30 December 2020 - GOV.UK (

How does the COVID-19 vaccine affect fertility and which jab is the best to have for fertility?

There is no evidence to suggest the COVID-19 vaccine will affect fertility. Claims of this kind are speculative and not supported by any data. The MHRA website is a good source of information.

Does the vaccine contain any animal or human products?

Neither of the approved vaccines contains any human or animal products or contain any ingredient which could cause any conflict with any faith/belief/religion.  

Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine - NHS (

Has the allergy/pregnancy advice changed? If you are allergic to the ingredients in the vaccine, and if you are pregnant can you talk to your clinician to discuss?

Pregnant women and those who have had extreme allergic reactions should not be encouraged to be vaccinated – pregnant women were not part of any trials, and although believed to be safe, the study did not capture this at this time. Always best to discuss with your GP or hospital team.

COVID-19 vaccination: a guide for women of childbearing age, pregnant or breastfeeding - GOV.UK (


Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine - NHS (

Is it mandatory to take the vaccine as a  Health Care professional?

The vaccination is not mandatory.


Are the vaccines live?

The AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines are not live vaccines





What are the side-effects?

Common side effects, which generally do not last a prolonged period, are pain/swelling at the injection site, headache, fatigue and sometimes a low-grade fever.


Why is there a low vaccine uptake in BAME communities?

There has been reports of disinformation being circulated among BAME communities and there are also historical, cultural and trust factors that explain the hesitancy.
A lot of work is taking place to instil confidence in the vaccine in BAME communities.



Guest speakers spoke of their own experiences including our own colleague Zain Hanif.

‘I’m going to wait a year to see what the effects of the vaccine are on others’.
‘We may not have a year- !’-‘ we may not have time on our side’ ( participant sharing the loss of 6 relatives)

‘I have lost 11 relatives to COVID-19 and my family dynamics will never be the same again’
‘The NHS is powered by love. There is more to working in the NHS than the monthly pay packet or professional codes of practice’- Dr Bola Owolabi MB BS DFFP MRCGP MSc, Director of Health inequalities at NHS England and Improvement.

One guest speaker spoke of his personal experience of contracting COVID-19. He mentioned:
‘the loneliness being as one of the worst consequences- that when you are part of a large community, that this can have a huge impact on personal wellbeing’

Guests shared their concerns about the anti-vax propaganda on social media within their own BAME communities:
‘I remain surprised about the amount of energy I’ve expanded fighting the misinformation within my network’.

“I think it is important for people to know that one of the lead scientists in developing the Moderna vaccine was an African-American, Dr. Kizmekkia Corbett. Interesting fact that vaccine hesitant members of minority communities may not be aware of.”

EEAST staff member, Bedfordshire-based EMT Zain Hanif who is Muslim and of Pakistani descent had the vaccine recently at Kempston ambulance station. Zain said: 
“I had the vaccine as I wanted to protect my family, especially my grandmother who I care for and is high risk. There are some concerns within my community about the vaccine, but we need to listen to the advice from experts who have deemed the vaccine to be safe. It is natural to have reservations, but we must do all we can to protect ourselves, families and community. Please encourage your family and friends to have the vaccine when they are called to book an appointment – you will see from the figures that we really don’t have time on our side to wait. If you have any concerns or anxieties as a staff member, then please have a chat with your line manager.”

How to get a vaccine

Please speak to your line manager who will direct you to your Vaccine lead for your area.
If you are unable to get a vaccine at a local station, EEAST can support your access to a hospital hub or at a facilitated vaccine clinic in Melbourn if we have your name by 2nd March 2021.
You can find out more on our Vaccines Home Page.


Published 24th February 2021 

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