Wednesday 16 December 2020 10:35 PM UTC
LONDON Dec 16: People from minority ethnic backgrounds or with lower incomes are significantly less likely to take the coronavirus vaccine despite being at much greater risk of the disease, research suggests.
Three-quarters (76 per cent) of the British public would take a Covid-19 jab if advised to by their GP or health professional, according to polling for the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH).
This fell to 57 per cent of people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds who would be likely to, compared with 79 per cent of white respondents.
Confidence was lowest among respondents of Asian ethnicity, with 55 per cent likely to say yes to a jab.
The RSPH said there was an issue with anti-vaccination messages being ‘targeted at different groups, including different ethnic or religious communities’, adding that these groups ‘continue to be most at risk of getting ill and most at risk of dying’.
And 70 per cent of the lowest earners were likely to say yes to a vaccine, compared with 84 per cent of the highest earners.
Vaccine misinformation within Muslim communities, including a false belief that the new Covid-19 jab contains animal products, could undermine efforts to immunise the public, a leading doctor has warned.
As the rollout of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine continues, Salman Waqar, from the British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA), said that immunisation programmes have often seen low take-up among Muslims.
This is in part because, until this year, in England and Wales flu and childhood immunisation vaccines did not allow the option of a jab that did not contain pork gelatine.
Dr Waqar, who is a GP in Berkshire and academic researcher at Oxford University, said misunderstandings around the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine — which does not contain any animal products — have been caused in part by poor communication from public health bodies.
‘We are paying the price for that now because people are saying ‘Oh, vaccines have gelatine’, or they are just not interested in listening to us,’ he said.
Men were more likely to get the jab than women, and 14 per cent of Londoners said they would be ‘very unlikely’ to get vaccinated – the highest proportion in the UK.
Overall, just 8 per cent of those surveyed said they would be very unlikely to take a coronavirus vaccine.
BAME respondents who said they were not willing to be vaccinated were open to offers of further health information from their GP.
More than a third (35 per cent) said they would be likely to change their mind if they had more information about a vaccine’s effectiveness, compared with 18 per cent of white respondents.
RSPH chief executive Christina Marriott said: ‘It is highly concerning that both those living in poorer areas and those from minority ethnic communities are less likely to want the vaccine.
‘However, it is not surprising. We have known for years that different communities have different levels of satisfaction in the NHS and more recently we have seen anti-vaccination messages have been specifically targeted at different groups, including different ethnic or religious communities.
‘But these are exactly the groups which have suffered most through Covid.
‘They continue to be most at risk of getting ill and most at risk of dying. So the Government, the NHS and local public health must rapidly and proactively work with these communities.’
Jabeer Butt, chief executive of the Race Equality Foundation, said: ‘These findings are not surprising in light of past experience of the reach of vaccines to BAME communities, but they appear to be particularly worrying as it suggests the Covid vaccine may not reach communities that have been disproportionately impacted.
‘It is imperative that the NHS uses trusted channels like BAME-led voluntary organisations to reach and address concerns of BAME communities and ensure that the disproportionate impact of Covid is not exacerbated.’ – Daily Mail
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