Why an inner-city area has Bristol’s lowest vaccination rate

Waheed Hussain had doubts about getting vaccinated at first but, after his sister ended up in hospital after catching coronavirus, he decided to get vaccinated.

The manager at United Supermarket in Stapleton Road had his jab last month.

“When my sister went on holiday, she caught covid and we [his family] then thought it was best to get vaccinated,” he said.

READ MORE: What health bosses are doing about worst vaccine rates in Bristol

“People are worried about the side effects and, because we are self-employed, you do not want to chance it and be ill for a week.

“People can not afford to have time off work.”

Mr Hussain lives in the Western side of Stapleton Road which, under the government data, falls under Barton Hill – the area of Bristol with the lowest vaccination rate.

According to the latest data from the government, which goes up to November 17, 49.4 per cent of people in the area have been double vaccinated – with 57.8 per having had their first dose.

The interactive map on the Government’s website – which shows first and second doses administered across the country, breaking down the rates by neighbourhood – shows that inner city neighbourhoods such as Barton Hill continue to have the lowest rates of covid vaccination in the city.

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A generic image of Stapleton Road
A generic image of Stapleton Road
(Image: BristolLive)

Looking at the data by neighbourhood, Barton Hill and Upper Easton continue to have the lowest percentage of people who have been double-vaccinated with the covid-19 jab – with the two of them being below 55 per cent.

In comparison, some parts of the city are seeing second dose vaccination rates above 85 per cent, such as Henleaze (91.4 per cent) or Westbury Village (87.2 per cent).

The difference between areas is affected by a variety of factors including demographic and areas with younger populations are likely to have fewer people double-jabbed, as they were lower down on the priority list for the roll-out and became eligible to book more recently.

Health bosses in the city spoke last week about what they are doing about the area’s with the lowest vaccination rates, saying they are working hard to try and understand why uptake is lower in some areas of Bristol.

Mr Hussain, who has lived in Easton all his life, also blamed social media for people not getting vaccinated, adding some information being shared on the platforms scare people.

“You hear about some people having bad side effects from it, but I had my first one in October and it was alright,” he continued.

“There are lots of customers who have been talking about getting their vaccine done.

“The majority of people that come into the store have been vaccinated and everyone else has been trying to find the time to get vaccinated.

“As more people have it, it gives more people confidence to get vaccinated.”

The Barton Hill catchment area in Bristol has one of the lowest take up rates of the coronavirus vaccine in the city
The Barton Hill catchment area in Bristol has one of the lowest take up rates of the coronavirus vaccine in the city
(Image: BristolLive)

Mr Hussain said some people are just confused and there needs to be more guided information that is accessible to everyone in difference languages.

He added that the vaccine needs to be offered in places nearby so that people don’t have to go far, giving the example of the weekly vaccination walk-in clinic at the Easton Christian Family Centre on Wednesdays.

More advertising on the TV and on social media to try to balance the fake information being circulated would also help, he continued.

Khalil Abdi, director of Bristol Horn Youth Concern, is someone who has been working hard to encourage people to get vaccinated.

Khalil Abdi has been encouraging people to get vaccinated
Khalil Abdi has been encouraging people to get vaccinated
(Image: BristolLive)

Mr Abdi, who has lived in Bristol for 20 years, said people get fake information that needs fighting, adding they try to bust myths around the vaccine and also encourage people to get educated.

He added: “We translate information about the vaccine into different languages such as Somali, Arabic, Urdu or Romanian so people can access the information in their own language.

“We also bring health professionals in so that people can ask them questions.

“It is about listening to people who are qualified, not people on social media or on the streets.”

Mr Abdi said that reasons why people may hesitate to get vaccinated include language barriers and fake information being distributed, but that as soon as they start engaging with organisations like his they listen.

The Easton resident also raised concerns about antivaxx protesters targeting vaccination centres.

“While the government hasn’t got people on the streets, on housing estates, antivaxxers are going everywhere, and they have different messages depending on who they are speaking to,” he continued.

“It is about educating people and defusing the narrative that the vaccine is no good.

“It is safe and it will mean you can visit your grandparents – you are protecting yourself and your community.

“So many lives were lost to covid in this community and we can only prevent that with vaccination.

“I do not want to see another lockdown, seeing people becoming lonely and not able to do what they want to do.

“I do not want to see people become obese or businesses on this street close down.

“We do do not want to see schools closed again and for children to miss their opportunity to be educated.

“This is the main message I am sending to people: listen to a professional such as your doctor that you trust, not anybody else that isn’t qualified.”

The Barton Hill catchment area in Bristol has one of the lowest take up rates of the coronavirus vaccine in the city
The Barton Hill catchment area in Bristol has one of the lowest take up rates of the coronavirus vaccine in the city
(Image: James Beck/BristolLive)

Sabah, who has lived in Bristol for six years, said she is double vaccinated, but admitted that she had doubts about it at first.

The mum-of-two said: “I was worried about the speed at which it was created and the possible side effects from it.

“Being a woman, you worry whether it could have an impact on your fertility.

“I am in my 40s so I had a bit of time to think about it while they vaccinated the elderly and most vulnerable.”

The NHS states on its website that there’s no evidence the COVID-19 vaccines have any effect on your chances of becoming pregnant.

The 42-year-old said she has severe asthma and was therefore worried about catching coronavirus.

She decided to get vaccinated when people she knew started catching the virus and saw how bad it could be.

Sabah said that, if she didn’t have asthma, she doesn’t know if she would have got vaccinated, adding that she would not have felt the urgency to do it then.

Speaking of the people she knows and whether they are vaccinated, she said: “It is a bit of a mix.

“Some people I know they won’t get vaccinated unless they have to because it stops them from doing something like going abroad.

“They just do not trust it and there are so many conspiracies.

“There is a lack of trust in the government.”

Sabah said that there needs to be face-to-face information sessions for people to get educated on the vaccine.

A mum-of-two from Easton said she had also been double vaccinated, adding she had no doubts about it but that some people she knows are afraid of getting the jab.

The Barton Hill catchment area in Bristol has one of the lowest take up rates of the coronavirus vaccine in the city
The Barton Hill catchment area in Bristol has one of the lowest take up rates of the coronavirus vaccine in the city
(Image: James Beck/BristolLive)

She added: “I do not know where they read it [this fake information].

“Some people think it was done too quickly and that there wasn’t enough experience so they are suspicious.”

The mum said that around half of the people she knows have been vaccinated.

“I am worried because coronavirus is very contagious and it can be very dangerous so I am always encouraging people to get vaccinated,” she added. “I still wear my mask and I am always washing my hands.

“I worry about it because I get breathing problems sometimes when I catch a bad cold, so I worry about how bad it could be with covid.”

What health officials say

A spokesperson from the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire COVID-19 Vaccination Programme, has previously said: “We’re working hard to try and understand why uptake is lower in some areas of Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, in partnership with communities and our local authority partners.

“We know that the population in Barton Hill is ethnically diverse and that immunisation uptake is lower among some minority ethnic communities.

“Having the COVID-19 vaccine is a choice and the reasons for not taking it up are usually complicated and personal to the individual.

“It is our role to provide accurate information about the COVID-19 vaccine in ways that resonate with different communities and to make it as easy as possible for people to have the vaccine when they are ready to take it up.

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The spokesperson added: “We are continually working with communities and organisations in Bristol Inner City to encourage vaccination. We also run regular weekly walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinics in Easton, Cabot Circus and the Bristol Rapid Testing Centre and operate pop-up clinics in areas where there is a specific need. A list of walk-in vaccination options can be found at www.grabajab.net.

“We are working closely with community organisations, such as Caafi Health, to understand what more we might do and to ensure that people are able to access information about vaccination and discuss their concerns in a variety of languages.”

“We are also making a series of Reducing Inequalities Grants available to community organisations for initiatives that contribute to increasing uptake of vaccination and aim to encourage grass roots innovation. We’ll be announcing details of which organisations have been awarded a grant, soon.

“There are many dimensions to inequalities and within the Vaccination Programme, we hold weekly meetings with multiple stakeholders from across our heath and care system, including the voluntary sector, to ensure that overcoming inequalities is central to our Programme.”

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