Health leaders in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire are urging local Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) residents to take up the free NHS flu jab if offered it by their GP.
GPs and pharmacists have issued the call following concerns that take-up of the vaccine may be lower among vulnerable BAME residents including over-65s and people with long-term health conditions.
To support the message, health partners have worked with Bedminster Community Pharmacist Ade Williams and Shiren Mohamed Goush of the Bristol Muslim Strategic Leadership Group to produce a new social media video discussing the benefits and importance of the flu vaccine for BAME residents.
Dr Shaba Nabi, local GP and clinical lead for prescribing at Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said:
“Flu is an unpleasant but short term illness for most people. However, it can also lead to serious illness for vulnerable people and causes thousands of hospitalisations and deaths in the UK every year.
“So far this year, we have seen a lower flu vaccination uptake among more vulnerable people from some BAME communities. People from BAME communities are already more vulnerable to coronavirus, and you’re more likely to be severely ill or die if you catch both coronavirus and flu at the same time. Therefore, it’s even more important that eligible people from BAME communities receive their vaccinations this year.
Deputy Mayor of Bristol, Asher Craig said: “It is all of our responsibility here in Bristol this winter to protect the most vulnerable in our community, and minimise hospitalisations due to flu to reduce demand on our already stretched NHS.
“So far, we have witnessed a lower take-up of the flu jab in some vulnerable groups within our BAME communities. I therefore urge everybody who is eligible for an NHS flu vaccine to receive it with confidence. It only takes a few minutes to receive, and it will save lives here in our city.”
Ade Williams, lead pharmacist at Bedminster Pharmacy and Public Health England Vaccination Champion, said: “This year, our main aim is to make it as easy as possible to get the flu vaccine. GPs and pharmacists will take all necessary measures to make sure the vaccine is given in a safe environment. Venues are regularly cleaned, staff will wear protective equipment and social distancing will be in place.”
Shiren Mohamed Goush of the Bristol Muslim Strategic Leadership Group said: “Being involved in the creation of this video gave me a really clear understanding of the importance of the flu vaccine, especially for people who are more at risk from the virus.
“I encourage people who aren’t quite sure about getting the vaccine, to take a few minutes to watch the video and find out more.”
Over-65s, people with long-term health conditions and pregnant women are all being offered the flu jab by their GP, while primary school children will receive the nasal spray vaccination via their school.
And this year children in school year 7 (ages 11 to 12), household contacts of people on the NHS shielded patient list and frontline health and social care workers are also eligible for the jab.
Those eligible for a free jab on the NHS can also get their vaccination from participating pharmacists
GP surgeries and pharmacists are taking all necessary measures to make sure the flu vaccine is given in a safe environment, and social distancing and safety measures are in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.