Column by South Gloucestershire Council's cabinet member for public health and equality of opportunity, Franklin Owusu-Antwi.

Every year, communities from all around the globe celebrate World Immunisation Week at the end of April to promote the use of vaccines, and to mark their success in protecting millions of people of all ages and backgrounds against a range of illnesses, which are now preventable.

Of course, this year the campaign has taken on a particular significance due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Our Covid-19 national vaccination programme is one of the most important endeavours in the history of the NHS and uptake has been very strong so far. More than six in ten adults in England have now had their first vaccine. But the issue of vaccine hesitancy remains at large, particularly among members of our community that are of African, Asian, Caribbean and other ethnic descent.

Those of us of African, Asian, Caribbean and other ethnic backgrounds are well aware of the disproportionate effect that the pandemic has had on our communities, which have suffered the highest rates of death and serious illness. It’s really important to get the message out that the vaccine is the best way to protect all of us and get us back to doing all the things we love with our families and friends. The vaccine also has an important role to play in our journey to equality, as differences in uptake could worsen health inequalities and marginalise our communities.

Of course, people should take an active interest in their health, ask questions and be comfortable before taking it up, and I understand the concerns about side effects and why some might not fully trust vaccines or the public health bodies that administer them.

We have all been targeted, at some point or another, by people who seek to exploit our concerns and divide us. To do our communities justice, we must share information we can trust with them and help each other make an informed choice about the vaccine. There is a lot of myth and misinformation circulating about the Covid vaccination but balanced, independent, factual information is out there too and the Healthier Together website brings material from trusted sources in 17 languages spoken locally: You can also find facts on the vaccine at