TV doctor Amir Khan has urged people to have a Covid-19 vaccination, saying finding trusted community leaders to spread that message is vital.
Dr Khan was speaking as he volunteered at a vaccination centre in Leeds as part of his new role as the first-ever ambassador for the Leeds Hospitals Charity.
“I think it’s really important that people from all backgrounds come forward for the vaccine and there has been a certain amount of increased hesitancy from people from minority backgrounds,” he told the PA news agency at Leeds United’s Elland Road ground.
“The reasons for that are really complex and historical.
“We want the right information to get out there.
“We want people to get information from the right sources. And it’s a constant battle. I don’t think we’re there yet.
“If you look at the statistics, people from black communities in particular are less likely to come forward for the vaccine.
“We really need to make sure they get the right information because they’ve been hit really hard through this pandemic and we owe it to them to get them the right information and get them vaccinated.”
Dr Khan, who lives in Leeds and works at a GP practice in Bradford, said he has now had both his vaccine shots and is hoping his example will encourage people from a South Asian background to take up the invitation.
He said: “People from these communities want to see people who look like themselves in the media and want to see them talking about this.
“And they want to see them reassuring them about what their worries around the vaccines are.
“It doesn’t mean it has to be doctors or nurses. It could be faith leaders or other community leaders who they have trust in. It’s finding those people and getting them to say the right things which will prove vital in this.
“If they see those guys getting vaccinated, they’re far more likely to get vaccinated.”
Dr Khan first appeared on the Channel 5 TV series GPs: Behind Closed Doors and is now well-known for regular appearances on ITV’s Lorraine and Good Morning Britain.
He said: “It is an absolute privilege to be joining Leeds Hospitals Charity as their first-ever ambassador.
“Being from Yorkshire, and working within the NHS myself, I can see first-hand the great support these charities provide to our NHS organisations.
“The NHS is fantastic but Leeds Hospitals Charity provides that over and above support to staff and patients, funding the things the NHS wouldn’t usually provide.”
Esther Wakeman, chief executive of Leeds Hospitals Charity, said: “We’re so excited to be welcoming Dr Amir as an ambassador.
“His profile in the community and as a much-loved TV presenter will help us raise the profile of the charity and highlight how donations fund specialist medical equipment, research and other things the hospitals and patients need over and above what the NHS pays.”