Research shows that previous vaccination programmes in the UK, have led to lower vaccine in areas within a higher proportion of minority ethnic populations. There is therefore concern that the vaccine uptake for COVID-19 will similarly be lower, among minority ethnic groups.
Also, primary care data indicates that, for several vaccines, Black African and Black Caribbean groups are less likely to be vaccinated (50%) compared to White groups (70%).
While recent survey data shows overall high levels of willingness (82%) to take up the vaccine there are significant differences by ethnicity, with Black ethnic groups the most likely to be COVID-19 vaccine hesitant followed by the Pakistani/Bangladeshi group.
Barriers to vaccine uptake include perception of risk, low confidence in the vaccine, distrust, inconvenience, socio-demographic context and lack of endorsement, lack of vaccine offer or lack of communication from trusted providers and community leaders.
In order to overcome these barriers, it is important information be produced and shared, including vaccine endorsements from trusted sources within the ethnic minority groups to increase awareness and understanding and to also address different religious and cultural concerns.
Community engagement is essential, health messages and vaccine distribution strategies must be sensitive to local communities. Community forums should include engagement with trusted sources such as healthcare workers, in particular GPs, and scientists from within the target community to respond to concerns about vaccine safety and efficacy.
There are other groups to add into that mix. People with pre-existing conditions, people who are immunocompromised, other people with disabilities and people who don’t fit into those categories but may also have weakened immunities.
The realities are that no-one taking the AstraZeneca, Pfizer, or Moderna Vaccines, really won’t know how they may react to the vaccine.
Also, whilst there is limited data on those with weakened and compromised immune systems, and no clarity from scientists and government officials, it will be difficult for people to make their decision on the vaccine.