People from ethnic minorities living in deprived communities are more likely to be hesitant about the coronavirus vaccine than those in more affluent areas, a study has shown.
The survey of people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups in Cheshire and Merseyside has prompted the NHS in the area to launch a campaign promoting vaccine safety.
The online study showed 13% of the 636 people who took part would either probably or definitely not take the vaccine.
In more deprived areas 33% reported a reluctance, compared with 17% in less deprived areas, the study said.
Dr Raj Kumar, a GP and chairman of the NHS Clinical Leaders Network, said: “It was interesting to see the least deprived populations had starkly different responses to the most deprived.
“It is quite clear that deprivation and higher levels of deprivation have an impact on a population’s thinking in relation to the vaccination itself.”
He said it “came as a shock” to see 12% of NHS workers questioned said they would not take the vaccine.
What this study has done is clearly shown us the BAME group is not one homogenous group of peopleDr Raj Kumar, NHS Clinical Leaders Network chairman
When asked about the barriers to having the jab, 42% of those questioned said they were concerned about how well it works and 40% were worried about potential side effects.
Twenty-nine per cent said they were worried about leaving home to get the vaccine and catching the virus, while 12% said they did not trust the Government and 6% cited their faith or religion as a barrier.
Dr Kumar said members of BAME communities could be more susceptible to rumours spread on social media about the vaccine because of deep-rooted feelings of distrust in the Government.
He said he hoped the study would allow the right information to be communicated to the right places.
“It’s really important we put the right message out,” he said.
“What this study has done is clearly shown us the BAME group is not one homogenous group of people.”
Willingness to have the vaccine was higher in older age groups, with 88% of over-65s saying they would take it, in comparison with 59% of 16 to 24-year-olds.
Following on from the research, Merseyside and Cheshire NHS is launching a campaign which will see representatives from ethnic communities address questions about the vaccine in a series of radio adverts, posters and social media adverts.
Sophie Minshull, 53, from Chester said she was encouraging others in the Pakistani Persian community to take up the vaccine, after she was surprised to hear there were concerns about it among Muslims.
She said: “My son, who’s 18, is classed as vulnerable after surviving a brain tumour as a child, so he’s been invited to get the vaccine.
“His first reaction was not to have it because of misinformation he has seen, but we’ve since discussed it and I’ve told him it’s not just him that he’s protecting – it’s everyone around him.
“I’m particularly passionate about encouraging women within ethnic communities to take up the vaccine so they too can be protected and to get the vaccine – it’s vital for not only themselves, but for future generations.”
The study was co-funded by Cheshire and Merseyside Health and Care Partnership, NHS England and NHS Improvement, Public Health England and Cheshire and Merseyside’s directors of public health.