Vaccine uptake improves among England's ethnic minorities

Figures show faster Covid-19 inoculation rates, following earlier concerns over mistrust and misinformation

A nurse prepares a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine at the East London Mosque. Getty

Health chiefs in England say vaccination rates have improved among ethnic minorities, including people from black and Asian backgrounds.

It eases long-standing concerns about lower uptake among minority groups, which was blamed in part on misinformation and mistrust of authorities.

Officials credited the improvement to a “grab a jab” campaign that sought to make the vaccine easily available at mosques, festivals and football grounds.

One July weekend saw 80,000 doses administered to people without an appointment – of whom 40 per cent were from ethnic minorities.

People with a mixed white and Asian background were the fastest-growing group of recipients, England's National Health Service said.

Since the end of May, first-dose coverage in this group has risen from 48 per cent to at least 71 per cent of those eligible.

The increase between mid-June and mid-August was about 25 per cent. It was 21 per cent among black communities, and 11 per cent among white people.

About 142,000 black people received their first dose in this period, more than half of them from a black African background.

Ethnic minorities have been hit particularly hard by Covid-19. Figures showed Muslims and South Asians suffering a disproportionate risk.

Dr Nikki Kanani, the NHS medical director of primary care, said the vaccine figures were a sign of increasing confidence in the shots.

“This hard work is paying off and we are protecting people who were previously reluctant to get the vaccine,” she said.

“The vaccine is safe, effective and could save your life. And if you have any lingering questions or concerns, please come forward and speak to a trusted healthcare professional.”

UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid said NHS staff and volunteers had gone “above and beyond” to make the vaccine easily accessible.

“It’s fantastic to see the positive impact NHS England’s grab-a-jab weekend has had in driving vaccine uptake among ethnic minority groups in particular,” he said.

About 88 per cent of all over-16s have received a first vaccine dose across UK. The proportion fully vaccinated is 78 per cent.

Dr Kanani said vaccine materials had been translated into more than 20 languages and faith leaders drafted in to help promote the shot.

British imams and community leaders have made repeated pleas for Muslims to get inoculated. Some vaccine doses were administered at mosques.

Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi last month praised the Muslim community as a “true force in our efforts to combat Covid-19”.

The push to make vaccines accessible has been coupled with warnings that unvaccinated people will face barriers to entering certain venues.

Covid certification is expected to be become a requirement for admission to nightclubs and Premier League football grounds.

Updated: August 28, 2021, 1:32 PM