New research carried by the ONS in the UK, among people aged 70 and over, has found that the lowest vaccination numbers recorded were from people identifying as Black African (58.9 per cent), Bangladeshi (72.7 per cent) Pakistani (74.0 per cent) and Black Caribbean (68.7 per cent).
This is considerably lower than the national average and it compares to a rate of 90.2 per cent for all residents in England aged 70 and over and 91.3 per cent for those from a White British background. The Liberal Democrat MP, Layla Moran has called these figures “deeply alarming”.
There have been concerns about vaccine hesitancy and members of marginalised groups ever since the vaccines were first announced.
In a UK survey in December 2020, vaccine hesitancy was highest amongst Black, Bangladeshi and Pakistani populations compared with people from a White ethnic background.
Speaking at the joint inquiry for the health and science select committees in January, the chief executive of NHS England said that he had “genuine and deep concern” that members of ethnic minority communities may not take the vaccine.
Many ethnic minorities have faced bias and discrimiation from medical authorities and this may have led to the increase in vaccine hesitancy.
An audible podcast series, The Bias Diagnosis, examines some of the institutional racism and sexism that exists within the medical field through lived experiences and these long-standing tensions may have contributed to the mistrust some ethnic minorities have when it comes to Covid-19 inoculation.
To add to this melting pot of fears, there has been a prolific spread of misinformation on social media surrounding the vaccines. These range from worries that the vaccine contains animal products therefore not making it ‘halal’ or ‘kosher’ all the way to fears over the impact on mortality rates.
Speaking on 9 February 2021 to an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Coronavirus, The SNP politician for central ayrshire, Philipa Witford, has said that “there is a need for a different approach” .
The APPG on Coronavirus calls for more local engagement with communities, such as outreach programmes, to help confront the issue of low vaccine uptake amongst ethnic minority groups.
If you are concerned about the Covid-19 vaccines, then you can speak to your local GP who can advise you.