Pharmacists' union promoting #Getvaccinated campaign

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PDA Union campaign to tackle vaccine hesitancy in the BAME community

The UK’s union exclusively for pharmacists, the PDA Union, has 32,000 plus members working across the health sector, including the NHS and private hospitals, GP practices, health boards, prisons and of course high street pharmacies. Its profession is more than 40% BAME and with community pharmacy often a trusted part of local communities, they are running a campaign to tackle vaccine hesitancy. PDAU Director, Paul Day, explained how this came about:

“In 2020 we launched a BAME Pharmacists’ Network as one of four groups introduced to progress our equality, diversity and inclusion work and the BAME Network Officers are now shaping their events and campaigns. COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy was a concern in BAME communities, so the network decided to create a campaign to encourage BAME pharmacists and their patients to get vaccinated.”

Sherifat Muhammad Kamal, Vice President of the PDA BAME Network, added:

“COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and the impact on its uptake by the BAME community is of great concern. As pharmacists, we can all help inform and educate our patients as to why they should get vaccinated.”

The campaign started with videos of network members introducing themselves, saying they were a pharmacist who had been vaccinated and then encouraging the viewer to get their vaccine too to protect themselves, their family and their community. Where individuals are multilingual, they have filmed additional versions, so that the campaign videos are also in languages including Gujarati, Arabic, Urdu, Bengali, Spanish, Twi, Cantonese and Hindi. The PDA is a big champion of allyship in equality, so also encouraged non-BAME network members to participate and the campaign also has videos in Welsh and the Irish language.

Alongside the network campaign, the Union also supported pharmacists to get their own priority vaccination, something which was harder for locum pharmacist members to arrange, as governments too often rely on employers to cascade messages and make arrangements.  

The Union has also been providing guidance to those members administering the vaccination to support safe practice and help satisfy patient concerns. This has meant the professional support and member campaign has been very joined up on this topic.

Jasraj Matharu, a pre-registration pharmacist who represents students and pre-regs on the Union Executive said:

“Pharmacists have conversations with patients and the public every day about their health and wellbeing, which presents a great opportunity to discuss the importance of them getting the COVID-19 vaccination to protect themselves, their families, and their communities.”

The videos were supplemented by an initial set of posters available for display in community pharmacies and the next stage of the campaign is to produce more campaign images for printing and social media, available in languages featured in the videos.

As sister health professions, pharmacists and podiatrists have many challenges in common and the two unions work together where we can. You can follow the PDA Union, also known as the Pharmacists’ Defence Association, on all the normal social media platforms.