People from minority ethnic backgrounds are far less likely to take the coronavirus vaccine, despite calls for them to be prioritised for Covid-19 immunisations.
According to documents released by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) found vaccine hesitancy was highest in Black or Black British groups, with 72% stating they were unlikely/very unlikely to get the jab.
With figures on Monday recording more than 4m Covid vaccine doses now administered across the UK, and the rollout being expanded to all over-70s, public health experts and MPs called for black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities to be better protected.
Pakistani/Bangladeshi groups were the next most hesitant, with 42% unlikely/very unlikely to be vaccinated.
Professor Martin Marshall, chair of the Royal College of GPs, urged Whitehall to begin a public health campaign.
Mr Marshall said that there are concerns that recent reports show that people within BAME communities are not only more likely to be adversely affected by the virus but also less likely to accept the Covid vaccine, when offered it.
“Where appropriate, we’re calling for public health communications to be tailored to patients in BAME communities, to reassure them about the efficacy and safety of the vaccine and ultimately encourage them to come forward for their vaccination when they are invited for it.”
Among the barriers to the vaccine uptake are the perception of risk, low confidence in the jab, and lack of endorsement from trusted providers and community leaders, it has been reported.
Vaaccines minister, Nadhim Zahawi, admitted he feared some BAME communities could remain exposed to coronavirus despite high expected uptake of the jabs.
“My big worry is if 85% of the adult population get vaccinated, if the 15% skews heavily to the BAME community, the virus will very quickly infect that community,” he said.
Coronavirus mortality rates for black African and Bangladeshi males aged nine to 64 were around five times the rate among white males of the same age during the first wave of the pandemic, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Research has also shown that systemic racism is driving health inequalities, with experts from UK and US universities revealing that 'racism is a root cause and major driver of ill health in general and increased mortality rates from Covid-19'.
Meanwhile, around 100 mosques used last Friday's prayers to raise Covid awareness and dispel myths around vaccinations.