(Black Press Media file photo)

(Black Press Media file photo)

South Asian COVID Task Force working to dispel vaccine myths

Doctor says she’s heard questions regarding infertility and what’s in the vaccine

Over the last few weeks, Dr. Navdeep Grewal and the South Asian COVID Task Force has been doing a bit of “mythbusting” work in regards to the COVID-19 vaccine.

Grewal, a doctor at both Delta Hospital and Mount Saint Joseph Hospital in Vancouver, began working with the task force in the fall of 2020. The task force started in the Peel region of Ontario, and specifically Brampton, which was seeing a higher rate of cases, along with less access and more barriers to testing.

READ ALSO: ‘The great amplifier’: COVID exposes disparities in Surrey, survey suggests, Dec. 18, 2020

The task force then reached out to Grewal after noticing a surge in cases in Fraser Health. The health region was seeing similar disparities in terms of higher rates of cases compared to the rest of the Lower Mainland and the province.

Fraser Health continues to see some of the highest rates of cases in the province despite bringing down the number of infections, but now other regions are seeing similar surges.

homelessphoto

Dr. Navdeep Grewal, a physician at both Delta Hospital and Mount Saint Joseph Hospital in Vancouver, is part of the South Asian COVID Task Force that has been working to educate people on the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines. (Submitted photos: Navdeep Grewal)

Grewal said she’s heard questions relating to infertility from taking the vaccine to concerns about what’s in it.

“These concerns come up, like ‘Why should I take the vaccine?’, ‘It’s not such a bad thing getting COVID, it’s just like the flu,’ so we combat those myths. We combat the same myths when people call in about what’s in the vaccine, like ‘Are there microchips?’ (and) ‘Does it affect my DNA?’ is also a big one,” she said.

“For example, we’ve put out infographics that say it doesn’t contain any meat products. It’s considered vegan. It’s considered halal in terms of the Muslim community. It doesn’t contain any beef products, so it’s good for the Hindu religion because they can’t eat beef. It’s also been condoned by Jewish councils in terms of being kosher.”

Grewal said she’s been helping out with vaccination clinics at some long-term care facilities, and in doing so, she’s able to ask the health-care workers “what they think the barriers are to them getting the vaccine or other people getting the vaccine.”

“They’re telling us that their families are telling them not to get the vaccine,” she explained. “Then they’re sharing Facebook posts and Instagram posts by anti-vaxxers and other people that are out there just wanting to get attention.”

Pointing to a specific example, Grewal said helped to educate a health-care worker that she spoke to one-on-one during a vaccination clinic.

“(She) had told me that she was not sure if she was going to take the vaccine because her family had told her that it would affect her fertility.”

Grewal said she has a list of contacts on WhatsApp that she uses to send out information from the task force. She said she added the health-care worker to her list.

“Then she WhatsApp messaged me a few days later to tell me that she had decided to go ahead and get the vaccine. It was just another one of those examples where if the people just have the right information, then they can make educated and informed decisions for themselves, rather than relying on all the crazy stuff that’s out there on the internet.”

Grewal said it’s only by vaccinating 70 to 80 per cent – or more – of the population “that we’re going to be able to achieve the herd immunity that’s going to allow us to slowly open up the economy in B.C. and in Canada and the world and get the world back to its pre-pandemic state again.”

READ ALSO: Advocates call for more multilingual messaging for education, awareness about COVID-19, Dec. 30, 2020

Meantime, Grewal said the task force has been working with McMaster University researchers “to better understand the concerns and barriers in South Asian communities across Canada about the COVID vaccine.”

To access the survey, visit surveys.mcmaster.ca/limesurvey/index.php/541736.

The survey is only in English and Punjabi, Grewal said, as the task force has identified the largest group of South Asians in the Peel/Brampton and Fraser Health regions are Punjabi-speaking. But she added there are plans to have it translated into other South Asian languages in the near future “to get full representation from the South Asian community.”

READ ALSO: Now’s the time to double down on COVID precautions in B.C., says ER doc, Feb. 5, 2021



lauren.collins@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Lauren on Twitter

CoronavirusHealthcarevaccines

Just Posted

Missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs was found deceased on Thursday evening (June 17).
Body of missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs found

Hobbs was reported missing Monday after leaving his job site in Langley

UFV athletes were honoured for their strength and perseverance during the pandemic. (UFV photo)
Fraser Valley athletes recognized in year without sports

UFV Cascades athletes honoured for strength shown during the pandemic

web
Mission students hold rally, say everyone welcome at school

Ecole Christine Morrison Elementary School hosted an Anti-Racism Day on June 15

Abbotsford council has given permission for Chilliwack to use the JAMES wastewater treatment plant for the disposal of trucked liquid waste until the end of September.
Chilliwack gets exemption to Abbotsford bylaw prohibiting liquid waste from other cities

Process in place until September while new facility under construction in Chilliwack

n
Quarry Questions: Supreme Court ruling spells concern for Mission bylaws

Judge ruled that provincial permits overrule municipal bylaws relating to mining activity

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

A search is underway for a 75-year-old fisherman who went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search continues for angler missing between Port Angeles and Victoria

Canadian, U.S. Coast Guard searching for 75-year-old man reported missing Thursday evening

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Most Read