A PASTOR at a Bradford church is encouraging more black, Asian and minority ethnic ('BAME') people to take the Covid-19 vaccine, and to look beyond the "chaotic messaging" which he says has been a regular feature of the last 12 months.

Pastor Isaac Shofoluwe, of the Redeemed Christian Church of God Chapel of His Glory, on Nelson Street, says that "mistrust" around the vaccine - which he says is a result of rumours and speculation - has lead to hesitancy among some people from ethnic minority communities.

But, he said, the only way to get society "anywhere close to normal" is for everyone to take it.

His words come amid wider concern that some people in 'BAME' communities are unsure about the vaccine, with the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) finding that vaccine uptake among minority communities was low, even claiming in a January survey that 72 per cent of black British people said they were unlikely to have the jab.

"There is a lot of mistrust around the vaccine, which has been generated by the chaotic messaging around the pandemic", said Pastor Shofoluwe, who is originally from Nigeria.

"It is crucial that we support the vaccine development process, demystifying it for those who might be concerned, and raising awareness about why vaccinations are important.

"Everyone will need to get two doses of the vaccine, and everyone will still have to wear masks and physically distance to get society anywhere close to 'normal' again."

Dr Javed Bashir, a safeguarding consultant with Bradford-based Strengthening Faith Institutions, also encouraged 'BAME' people to get vaccinated, while adding that "historical issues, which run deep in ethnic minority groups" can sometimes contribute to feelings of mistrust.

"Some of the reasons for hesitancy are concerns about side effects, a lack of trust and misinformation", Dr Bashir, originally from Pakistan, said.

"But vaccination offers us the best and only exit from this. It is a safe and effective way of protecting people.

"People from minority groups have high hesitancy rates compared to the general population. We would like to see strong interventions from faith leaders and community figures. When people are misinformed, they need to step up."

Dr Bashir, who received the first dose of his AstraZeneca vaccine last month, added: "Getting vaccinated doesn't just protect ourselves, but others too. The vaccine gives us hope that the end of the pandemic is in sight. Please take it when it's your turn, we need as many people to be protected as possible."

Dr Manoj Joshi DL, who is the past district governor for Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland and the chairman of governors at Bradford Academy, has also been vaccinated - receiving his second dose earlier this month.

He said: "The current Covid-19 vaccination promises to be a wonderful opportunity, bringing together everyone in the community from across the Bradford district to share our success in contributing to reducing the rate of infection, taking part in vaccine trials, getting vaccinated, inspiring more to take up the vaccine and serving humanity.

"Rarely does an opportunity to not only protect one’s own life, but the whole community, arise - getting the vaccine is one such opportunity and duty.

"So today, we in the Bradford district and as a country stand at a crossroads: we focus our efforts on the push against Covid-19, while also ensuring that we are ready for the opportunities that the vaccine will bring, like going to work, to places of worship, visiting friends and family and going to weddings, parties and on holiday.

"We know what we are capable of achieving, and are ready to aim higher than ever. We know that we need more Covid-19 champions, willing hands, more caring hearts and more bright minds in our communities if we want to turn those ambitions into reality.

"As individuals and communities as a whole, there is now an opportunity to come together with our fellow professionals to assess our progress so far, look forward at what needs to be done and discover ways to get even more people vaccinated.

"I have personally been taking various vaccines since birth - such as MMR, tetanus, yellow fever, polio and typhoid, and I was one of the very first to take both jabs of Pfizer Covid -19 vaccines safely, without any side or adverse effects.

"My wife has also had her first Covid-19 jab without any side effects, which means that we are encouraging everyone to get vaccinated as well.

"I also know from my vast experience of Rotary’s worldwide End Polio Now programme of 35 years - where over 2.6 billion children have been vaccinated, without any harm or side effects whatsoever."