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Sikh group helps South Asian seniors get vaccines while battling misinformation

Last Updated Mar 8, 2021 at 3:08 pm PDT

A nurse assistant prepares a dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19 during a priority vaccination program for health workers at a community medical center in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
Summary

Community group ensuring South Asian community well-informed, offering help booking vaccine appointments

Sikh Health Foundation creating infographics in English and Punjabi addressing misinformation

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – As the vaccine rollout gets underway in B.C., a Sikh group is working to help South Asian seniors get the information they need.

Sukhmeet Singh Sachal with the Sikh Health Foundation, says there can be obstacles for members of the South Asian community when it comes to getting the vaccine, given much of the health communication has been in English during the pandemic.

He says the group is focused on reducing barriers in the community to ensure seniors are getting immunized.

“I think it’s important for us as public health professionals — or really, anyone — to acknowledge people’s fears, listen to them, then see how we can work together to overcome that fear and get the vaccine,” he told NEWS 1130.

The foundation is also putting out infographics in English and Punjabi to inform and counter misinformation.

“One of the biggest things still is vaccine hesitancy, which is very difficult for us to combat,” he said.

“We’ve been seeing online — I’ve seen it myself — where people have been posting information on how the vaccine will have pig’s blood in it or fetal blood in it, and that’s all just not true,” he added.

RELATED: COVID-19 vaccinations in B.C.: What you need to know

Sachal says the group has been explaining the process as simple as they can and connecting through social media, especially WhatsApp, which he suggests health agencies should utilize for messaging.

“We really need to meet people where they’re at. If most of the South Asian population is using WhatsApp, that’s where we need to put our message out there. That’s really what our work has been, is to ensure that information is being channelled in the proper ways so that people can get the information in a very sensitive way, a very simple way. If they have questions, it’s important to acknowledge their fears as well.”

He adds gurdwaras are also providing support in helping people arrange their vaccine bookings.