VANCOUVER --
Vaccine hesitancy is a big issue with a number of ethnic groups, and now doctors in B.C. are banding together to tackle the problem.

The aim is to dispel myths and to get those most at risk to get a shot, particularly in one of the province's hardest hit areas.

B.C. marked a milestone this week, delivering its two millionth dose of COVID-19 vaccine. The shot was given in Surrey, a city hit disproportionately hard by the pandemic.

"A majority of essential workers, workplaces, industries are located in our region," said Dr. Victoria Lee of the Fraser Health Authority Thursday.

"We're also the most populous and densely populated region in the province."

At one point access was an issue, but now, with more vaccine, the push is on for people to register with the provincial system.

Kiosks will appear in religious places, malls and grocery stores to help make that happen.

Another issue, experts say, was hesitancy, especially around AstraZeneca and rare blood clots. Also many ethnic communities aren't sure what information to trust.

Emergency room doctor Navdeep Grewal is part of a national campaign to address misinformation and tell people the vaccines are safe.

"Indigenous, Black, Filipino, Asian," she said of the members of the team. "We all decided to band together as grassroots physicians and leaders to put on this campaign and address the vaccine questions."

Grewal said the questions vary; "Is it going to affect my DNA? Were the vaccines developed too quickly? What's in it?"

In the South Asian community she heard fears around the impact on fertility in men and woman, and about what the shots contained. Both were based on rumours.

"Do they contain meat? Is it safe for me to take for religious reasons, if I don't eat pork or don't eat beef?"

Many plugged in to news from India, worried because the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD manufactured there sounded similar to Covaxin, an entirely different vaccine.

"People were confusing that as well, and thinking, 'Why would I take a drug that isn't fully studied?'"

And those who turned to B.C.'s FAQ on COVID-19 vaccines found these questions weren't answered.

This is further proof the province's messaging needs to go beyond translation, something the government now says it's tackling.

With a report from CTV News Vancouver's Bhinder Sajan in Victoria





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