COVID-19 vaccine uptake in UK’s minority ethnic groups

African American female doctor is giving flu or coronavirus vaccine to Arabian female.

Credit: bogdankosanovic/GettyImages

UK Research and Innovation is funding two studies to determine the factors that affect COVID-19 vaccine uptake among minority ethnic groups.

Some minority ethnic groups are less likely to take the COVID-19 vaccine.

Given these groups are also disproportionately at risk (GOV.UK) from the disease, evidence is needed to find out the factors that inhibit vaccine uptake.

Finding out what limits vaccine uptake

There is limited evidence on the underpinning reasons, but vaccine hesitancy in minority ethnic groups is potentially linked to:

  • beliefs about vaccine safety or efficacy
  • issues of mistrust towards formal services
  • practical barriers such as access.

A partnership between King’s College London, Birmingham City University and Public Health England is working to compile this evidence.

The project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. (ESRC)

Working with communities

The study includes three waves of interviews and focus groups with community members and organisations in London and Birmingham.

This will allow an in-depth exploration of what encourages or discourages uptake and any changes over time.

The researchers are using a behavioural sciences framework to evaluate local and national campaigns across the UK to help develop evidence-based, tailored messages to support vaccination decision making.

Dr Atiya Kamal from Birmingham City University said:

This is a great opportunity to work with communities directly to facilitate the development of health messages and support the ongoing success of the UK vaccination programme.

UK-wide collaboration

A project called ‘Collaboration for change: Promoting vaccine uptake’ has also been funded by ESRC.

Working on the project are:

  • University of Aberdeen
  • University College London
  • community organisations in:
    • Leicester
    • London
    • Manchester
    • Glasgow
    • Ipswich
    • Suffolk
    • London
    • Rotherham.

The programme will deliver recommendations on how to increase vaccine uptake across ethnic minority groups and improve public health messaging.

The recommendations will be developed through a systematic review of international literature led by Dr Miriam Brazzelli from the University of Aberdeen.

It will also incorporate research into the experience of community leaders who have been supporting communities throughout the pandemic.

Lived experience

Phanuel Mutumburi from the Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality (ISCRE) voiced their support:

At ISCRE, we believe that building trust is the key to unlocking vaccine hesitancy in minority ethnic communities.

We are excited to be part of this research as it will provide understanding of the challenges through engagement with people with lived experience.

Talia Isaacs from the UCL Institute of Education said:

Harnessing community organisations’ experience to refine insights from data sources and tailor recommendations to the communities they represent is essential for improving vaccine uptake and building trust in the healthcare system.

Last updated: 11 October 2021

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