Doctor Mukesh Chugh.
A Derry doctor has said that everyone has a 'duty' to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
The number of vaccines administered in Northern Ireland now stands at 301,279.
Of these, 275,232 people have received their first dose, with a further 26,047 people also having received their required second dose.
However, Doctor Mukesh Chugh, a consultant anaesthetist at Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry, says there remains a reluctance or refusal among some people to get the vaccine,
Dr Chugh said this must be addressed.
“It cannot be a case any longer of the health authorities appealing to people to get the vaccine,” he told the Derry News.
“Everyone has to realise that we all have a duty to be vaccinated against this disease.
“We have a duty to ourselves, our families, our friends and the wider community.
“The vaccine will only be effective if a large percentage of the population gets it, so it is vital that we get the message out that this is the right thing to do.”
Current evidence shows that those from a BAME background have been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19.
However, Dr Chugh said there was particular problem within the BAME community around people refusing to get the vaccine.
He highlighted a recent survey by the Royal Society of Public Health in England which indicated that while 80% of white people say are willing to get the vaccine, this figure was only 57% for people within the BAME community.
He blamed 'lies' and 'false information' on social media for creating this situation.
“There is a lot of misinformation being floated around the 'University of Social Media'.
“At the minute, the fear of the vaccine is more than fear of virus itself.
“It is a safe vaccine and it does not contain anything which goes against any religious belief. It is not going to alter anyone’s DNA and someone is not putting a chip in the vaccine to spy on people.
“I am heavily involved in the community outside hospital and keep receiving calls so that I can convince someone to go for the vaccine as they are scared because of the messages they received saying they should not get it.
“Misinformation and mistrust need to be countered,” said Dr Chugh.
He urged people from all backgrounds, but particularly from within BAME communities, to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
“This reluctance of vaccine needs to end,” he said.
“Coming from Asian background, I know people who want to treat this virus with ginger and lemon tea but not with the vaccine. This is crazy.
“We all know how big and dangerous Covid-19 can become, so I appeal to everyone - don’t wait vaccinate.”
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