The “non-stop loop” of lockdown will never be broken if fear and uncertainty about having a COVID-19 vaccine among ethnic minorities is not addressed, a top researcher has said.
Dr David Strain, Senior Clinical Lecturer at the University of Exeter Medical School, has brought together a group of experts to discuss vaccine hesitancy and how it should be tackled.
He said: “We know there’s a real lack of trust and low confidence in the safety or efficacy of the vaccine in some communities. Research has also shown that there was a higher risk of COVID-19 related deaths among black and ethnic minority groups in the UK when compared to the white British population. It’s because of this that it’s essential we look at new and better ways to engage with these people.
“We need to look at changing public health policies, increasing public health campaigns and embracing community leaders to help stamp out the existing and widening inequalities in COVID-19 mortality.
“At the moment things across the country are opening back up, we can hug the people we love and socialise again, but if people aren’t getting vaccinated we could end up back at the beginning. We need to act urgently to break this non-stop loop of lockdown before schools, shops and offices are once again shut down.”
A large-scale study of more than 12,000 people carried out in November and December 2020, led by the University of Glasgow, showed that Black or Black British people had the highest rate of vaccine hesitancy, with almost 72 per cent of people in that group stating they would not have the jab.
Those from Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds reported the second highest hesitancy, with more than 42 per cent saying they would not have the vaccine when offered.
Across all groups, the main reasons for vaccine hesitancy were concerns over future unknown effects of a vaccine, with 42.7 per cent citing this as their main reason.
Dr Strain will chair a webinar on the subject of vaccine hesitancy on Wednesday, May 26 from 7pm as part of the Diabetes Professional Care (DPC) Spring Forum. Each online session is free and CPD-accredited.
He will be joined by Consultant Virologist Dr Dush Mital, Professor Partha Kar OBE, Consultant Endocrinologist and National Speciality Advisor for NHS England and Dr Mohammad Razai, GP and Academic Clinical Fellow in Primary Care.
Endocrinologist Dr Sarah Ali, from Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, will also be speaking.
According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) Bangladeshi and Pakistani men were 1.8 times more likely to have a COVID-19-related death than white males. The risk among females from those communities was 1.6 times higher.
Prior registration is required to access the webinar. Click here to sign up.