Scientific advisers are concerned about the coronavirus vaccine uptake among black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, following the release of data from a new study.
Research from the UK Household Longitudinal Study – which conducts annual interviews to gain a long-term perspective on British people’s lives – showed 72 per cent of black people said they were unlikely to have the jab.
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A report from Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) highlighted the persisting problems of structural, and institutional racism, and historic under representation in healthcare research, as driving the reduced levels of trust in the vaccination programme.
The study concluded that “vaccine programmes should prioritise measures to improve uptake in specific minority ethnic groups.”
Researchers contacted 12,035 participants in late November, when initial results of vaccine trials were being reported in the media, to better understand coronavirus vaccine reluctance, and if certain members of the population were more likely to be impacted.
Yet a majority of people – 82 per cent – said they were likely or very likely to have the jab.
This increased to 96 per cent among those aged over 75.
Whilst women, younger people and those with lower education levels proved less willing, vaccine hesitancy was highest among people from black groups, with most saying they would be unlikely or very unlikely to be vaccinated.
Black or black British were the ethnic group with the highest rate of vaccine hesitancy at 71.8 per cent. Pakistani/Bangladeshi groups were the next most hesitant ethnic group with 42.3 per cent vaccine hesitant, followed by those of mixed ethnicity with 32.4 per cent, and Eastern European groups also less willing.
The main reasons for vaccine hesitancy were concerns over future unknown effects of a vaccine, with 42.7 per cent citing this as their main reason, as well as a lack of trust in vaccines.
Those who were willing to take up the vaccine were motivated by not wanting to catch coronavirus, or become ill from the disease, and allowing social and family life to get back to normal.
Low trust in healthcare
Such figures are greater than previous estimates by the Royal Society for Public Health, which polled 2,076 UK adults and found 57 per cent of respondents from BAME backgrounds would have the covid-19 vaccine, if advised by their GP or a health professional, in comparison to 79 per cent of white respondents.
Sage experts explained: “Trust is particularly important for black communities that have low trust in healthcare organisations and research findings due to historical issues of unethical healthcare research.
“Trust is also undermined by structural and institutional racism and discrimination. Minority ethnic groups have historically been underrepresented within health research, including vaccines trials, which can influence trust in a particular vaccine being perceived as appropriate and safe, and concerns that immunisation research is not ethnically heterogenous.”
The report stressed the need for scientists who are part of BAME communities themselves to tackle vaccine safety concerns, as well as trusted sources such as GPs.
It said: “Approaches should acknowledge the historical issues in healthcare research to address mistrust towards government and healthcare services experienced in black communities in relation to vaccination.”
Additionally, to overcome the barriers, “multilingual, non-stigmatising communications should be produced and shared”, including “vaccine offers and endorsements from trusted sources to increase awareness and understanding and to address different religious and cultural concerns”.
— to inews.co.uk