BAME Network Committee champions equality and diversity at recent Covid-19 vaccine event

Last week, the PDA's newly elected BAME Committee held their first network event which explored Covid-19 vaccines, practice, myths and overcoming vaccine hesitancy.

Thu 8th April 2021 The PDA

Most importantly, delegates discussed how pharmacists in their unique position of trust within their communities can work together to overcome vaccine hesitancy and improve vaccine uptake, especially in BAME communities.

The event continues the PDA’s work on the #GetVaccinated campaign where pharmacists are leading conversations within their profession and community to encourage patients to take the Covid-19 vaccine when they can.

Guest speaker Natasha Callender, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer’s Clinical Fellow, NHS England and NHSE Improvement, spoke about ‘Theme 3: Healthcare Service Delivery’ from the Joint National Plan for Inclusive Pharmacy Practice in England, developed by NHS England, NHS Improvement and pharmacy organisations. Natasha expanded on the initiative which focuses on continuing the promotion of the vaccine uptake in BAME communities, delivering targeted health promotion messaging to tackle health disparities and managing long-term conditions prevalent in BAME communities by creating resource pack which will help pharmacists to:

  • Better understand and interpret local population health data on health inequalities
  • Better engage and work with diverse communities to design culturally competent and tailored approaches to healthcare delivery.

Delegates also heard from Dr Raees Lunat, from Health Education England. Dr Lunat is a national medical director’s clinical fellow and has a BSc degree in global health and a distinction in clinical medicine with a personal and professional commitment to education, leadership and quality improvement. Dr Lunat gave an account of how NHS England and Improvement are approaching the staff vaccination rollout. Dr Lunat shared the outstanding success of the staff vaccination campaign with 95% of the NHS workforce receiving the vaccine. Dr Lunat attributed overcoming vaccine hesitancy success to the relational approach the NHS took to reach minority ethnic staff members, involving 1-2-1 conversations with staff and listening to their concerns to help overcome them.

Also speaking at the event was Alima Batchelor, Head of Policy at the PDA. Alima has over 17 years of experience in primary care and is a senior pharmacist in a vaccination centre in the Midlands. Alima shared her first-hand experience of the practice within the vaccine centre including answering patient queries, training staff, administering the vaccine, managing vaccine supply and writing reports for the NHS. Alima described a real feeling of achievement by all staff working at the centre.

Hiren Patel, a primary care pharmacist for over a decade and an advanced clinical practitioner, who also works in the PDA policy department, has worked in three different vaccination centres providing vital pharmacist support. Hiren shared examples of how government-backed health intervention has shaped public perception over centuries and has created and overcome vaccine hesitancy. Hiren emphasised the importance of vaccine education and creating safe spaces for people to have conversations with professionals about the Covid-19 vaccine.

The final speaker at the event was Sherifat Muhammad Kamal, the Vice President of the PDA BAME Network and a locum pharmacist with experience in management in both community and the NHS. Sherifat champions equality and diversity and actively supports BAME pharmacists. Actively involved in the health promotion on the Covid-19 vaccination within BAME communities, Sherifat talked about the importance of information being accessible and available to BAME communities and how pharmacists are best placed to have conversations as local trusted health practitioners. Sherifat also shared her experience of using a variety of media platforms to promote vaccinations including patient information leaflets. She also addressed some of the myths around side effects and encouraged reporting via the Yellow Card Scheme.

Manuella Asso, PDA Organising Assistant gave an update on the PDA’s #GetVaccinated campaign to promote confidence in the vaccine and increase uptake in ethnic minority communities. Manuella highlighted the PDA resources available and how members can get involved in the campaign.

Manuella said: “The event was both interesting and informative for members who had the opportunity to put forward their questions to the panel.” 

Paul Kevin, PDA BAME Member, said “A very informative and enjoyable session, I look forward to the next one.”

Elsy Gomez Campos, President of the PDA BAME Network, thanked the speakers and members and closed the meeting with a strong message about the PDA: “The PDA doesn’t just talk; they support members to take action together. Together we can bring about change and make a difference.” Elsy also promised that the network would give all members a voice.

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