The Polish-speaking community in Scotland had a year-long “information gap” on Covid vaccines as the titles of documents were not translated, MSPs have been told.
Content from NHS Inform was translated into Polish but the titles of the documents themselves were left in English, making them difficult to find, Holyrood’s Covid-19 Recovery Committee heard.
The committee is investigating why vaccine uptake has been lower in ethnic minority communities.
Data from Public Health Scotland shows uptake has been particularly low among white Polish people in Scotland, with less than half of this group receiving two doses as of November 23.
MSPs have previously been warned anti-vaccine sentiment has been strong among certain Polish and eastern European demographics.
Magda Czarnecka of the charity Feniks said there had been little attempt to reach out with vaccine information to Scotland’s Polish community before her organisation became involved in June this year.
She told the committee on Thursday: “Vaccine hesitancy within the Polish community was already quite well-known even before Covid appeared.”
There were “missed opportunities” from Government and other institutions to deal with this, she said, and anti-vaccine conspiracy theories were able to develop.
She said: “We as Feniks, we’re trying to do as much as possible, we’re translating information about the ever-changing conditions of social distancing.
“But I don’t think we had the strength to combat all the myths that were developing on social media.”
Because the titles of documents were in English, she added: “All the information that was created – there were videos, leaflets – they were pretty much not searchable.
“For the person who is not using English very well, they were looking for information in Polish, they were not finding it.
“I think it has to be understood that there was a kind of information gap for one year at least.”
Those in Scotland’s Polish community were instead receiving information from Poland, she said, while a lack of trust in authorities exacerbated the situation.
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