NHS surgeon pledges to tackle ‘tragic’ vaccine hesitancy among at-risk groups

Jemma Crew, PA Social Affairs Correspondent
·3-min read

An NHS surgeon known for his work on tackling knife violence has pledged to battle coronavirus vaccine hesitancy, saying he does not want people to “die because of misinformation”.

Dr Martin Griffiths, who has received a Covid-19 vaccine, is urging fellow staff and others from black, Asian and other minority groups to get the jab.

People from minority ethnic backgrounds are more susceptible to Covid-19 but research has suggested they are among those most hesitant about getting vaccinated.

Dr Griffiths said this situation is “tragic” and something he is “not prepared to tolerate”.

The NHS national clinical director for violence reduction added: “I’ve had coronavirus, I’ve seen it up close. You don’t want to die. The people doing badly are the same people who are hesitant about taking up the vaccine and it’s tragic.

“Minority ethnic groups take up a disproportionate amount of beds due to Covid and they are also the most hesitant to get the one thing that could save them.

“We need to rally around these groups and give them the support they need so that they choose to have the jab, saving their own lives and those of their loved ones.”

Dr Griffiths, who works at Barts Health NHS Trust in London, is calling on patients and colleagues to share the message that the approved coronavirus vaccines are safe for all, and the key to communities opening up again.

“Spread the word, not the virus,” he added.

In particular, he feels more must be done to address concerns of staff such as security guards, porters, transport workers and cleaners.

He continued: “These are valued people who are an integral part of the healthcare system, people I have worked with for 30 years, and I don’t want to see them die because of misinformation.

“These are the patient-facing roles that are most at risk and they are also likely to be decision-makers on health within their families, with a butterfly effect of influence on their communities. It’s vital we listen and help.”

Dr Griffiths said he recently vaccinated a security guard who had been encouraged by colleagues to talk to him about her concerns.

He said vital conversations between staff and with loved ones at home are where “the real changes to attitude can be made”.

Coronavirus vaccines are being delivered at more than 1,500 sites across England, including sports stadiums, racecourses, show grounds, cathedrals, churches, a temple, a mosque and a museum.

The minister for Covid vaccine deployment, Nadhim Zahawi, said: “Dr Martin Griffiths has a hugely important message on the vaccine being safe for all, and it’s vital that it is heard loud and clear.

“It is a top priority for Government that we support black and other minority ethnic groups to get the right information so they can protect themselves and their loved ones.

“As part of this we are working with faith and community leaders to dispel myths, give advice about the benefits of vaccinations and provide clear details for how their communities can get a jab.

“Martin’s message is a clear-eyed one: this virus is deadly and it is paramount that every eligible person benefits from a vaccine.”