A film which aims to save lives by encouraging vaccine take-up and addressing health inequalities in the Scottish African, Caribbean and Black (ACB) community was premiered in Scotland on Friday 7 October.

In the first quarter of 2022, uptake of the Covid 19 vaccine was lowest in the African group at 41.7 percent. This compares with 75.4 percent in the white ethnic group.

African Voices In Scotland reveals the African, Caribbean and Black communities response to covid, identifies their barriers to vaccine take up, and answers concerns raised.

The documentary film highlights that amongst barriers to vaccination for ACB communities are: a mistrust in the government, poor support for grass roots community groups, and a disengagement with the wider community.

Other reasons cited include anxiety around the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines and vaccine confidence.

The film was made by Dr Josephine Adekola of University of Glasgow, Adam Smith Business School, in response to the many and specific questions posed to her whilst she undertook a research project on covid vaccine experience and hesitancy within ACB communities.

Dr Adekola didn’t know the answers and hadn’t heard them in the media, so made this documentary to connect ACB community groups, Public Health Scotland, scientists who developed the vaccine, academics, and the Scottish Government. It enables those involved to communicate their concerns and views, directly understand each other, and respond.

It is now being used as an educational tool to engage and connect communities and public bodies, and influence policy to reduce health inequalities.

Dr Josephine Adekola said: “The critical question guiding the film is: Does better access to science, data, and scientific expertise enhance vaccine engagement? At the core of this film, we explore how we communicate about science and risk. Targeting health messages at local values, concerns, and priorities is essential—this affects how we perceive risk, shaping our understanding of the world and the risk we face.”

I hope the film will help fill a critical gap by answering questions specifically tailored to the concerns of members of the African and Caribbean communities about COVID-19 vaccines. At the same time, the film allows experts, health practitioners, government officials, and members of the communities to communicate critical messages from their perspectives with one another.”

Viana Maya- CEO, pRESPECT Hub said: “We wanted to support the Covid Community Event as we believe it is empowering to hear the voices and solutions of the communities impacted by major issues and the subsequent decisions that are made affecting their outcomes. It highlighted the need for more future inclusion of the African and Caribbean communities, who must be included at the beginning, middle and end of any decision making processes that have an impact on their lives.”