A BRADFORD doctor has said work to bust myths around the Covid-19 vaccine and boost uptake is starting to pay off.

In a meeting held by Bradford Foundation Trust and the Race Equality Network earlier this week, a GP told how she has been holding one-to-one conversations with patients of all ages and backgrounds about their concerns.

Dr Safina Haque of the Kensington Partnership has worked in the heart of the inner city for more than 20 years. She has played a key role in the roll-out's success, particularly in the most deprived areas where health inequalities exist.

When the vaccine was first started in January, Dr Haque said she faced hesitancy from both over 80s and frontline workers for different reasons.

But as more and more people started getting vaccinated and it was brought into community centres and mosques, the uptake has slowly increased while the overall hesitancy has reduced.

People that refused in the beginning are now changing their minds and the percentage of refusals has come down.

Dr Haque suggested that BAME and socioeconomic factors played a role in vaccine uptake. Data showed the most deprived area in the CCG’s City cohorts had more high risk people between 16 and 74 but lower numbers of over 80s.

Dr Haque said: “In the beginning when we started our over 80s lived with these joint family households. They wanted to come with entire families, the family members were high risk. Would it have been better to tackle both these age groups together rather than the age cohorts? That would make more sense that you accounted for the socioeconomic deprivation as well.

“We don’t have a lot of over 80s. Most of the young people in the lower socioeconomic classes do die young.”

But hesitancy around immunisation is nothing new for Dr Haque who said the rise of misinformation on social media has impacted other vaccines.

She explained: “It’s been in the last two or three years I have found I am fighting against child immunisations and flu immunisations.

“I’m finding more and more of the young population coming forward to say they do not believe in vaccines and they have found information themselves.

“The elder population if I manage to speak to them directly on the phone and bypass the siblings and children they were more amenable, they were more acceptable of the vaccine and I think there is this generational difference around health. They were more trusting of the professionals than the young generation. But I think there’s a lot of misinformation out there. We as health professionals need to come forward a bit faster in communicating clear in an easy language that they can understand.

“The first question I get asked now when I do a phone call is Doctor, have you had your vaccine? They like to know their GP’s have had the vaccine as well. Some will just ask me, which is better - Pfizer or Oxford? That was another key thing we identified. They wanted to know the information but they would have preferred that information from professionals.

"Unfortunately as we know with social media a lot of information goes out before the professionals have managed to send their information out. The messages tend to confuse people."