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Covid: Huge disparities among vaccination rates in UK revealed

A man receives a jab in Wales which aims to have offered vaccinations to every eligible adult by July 31 (Picture: Matthew Horwood/Getty)

Black Caribbean people in the UK are more than seven times less likely to have received a Covid jab, analysis of health data shows.

Vaccine uptake rates for citizens across various demographics have been calculated by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Older black adults remain the ethnic group least likely to have received a coronavirus jab, with around three in 10 not yet vaccinated.

The lowest rates were estimated among those aged 50 and over identifying as black Caribbean and black African, at 66.8% and 71.2% respectively, the ONS said.

This compares with 93.7% of white British adults, with estimates for all ethnic minority groups lower than this.

Rates were also lower in people of Muslim or Buddhist faiths, those who do not speak English, those living in more deprived areas and disabled people.

The insights have been provided after the ONS analysed data from the National Immunisation Management Service (NIMS) on people over 50 between December 8 and April 12, linking it to people’s NHS numbers.

Statistical modelling showed the odds of not having received a dose of a vaccine were 7.4 times greater for people from black Caribbean backgrounds compared with people of white British ethnicity.

In December Margaret Keenan, 90, became the first patient in the UK to receive the Pfizer/BioNtech jab (Picture: Jacob King – Pool / Getty Images)

After adjusting for age, sex, socio-demographic characteristics and underlying health conditions, the odds were still 5.6 times greater.

The vaccination rate among people living in the most deprived areas of England was 87.8%, compared with 94.5% in the least deprived, the ONS said.

Some 89.3% of disabled people who reported being limited a lot in their day-to-day activities have received a jab, compared with 92.3% for non-disabled people.

The lowest rates among religious groups were for those who identified as Muslim (78.8%) or Buddhist (83.3%), while the figures for people identifying as Christian or Hindu were 93.2% and 92% respectively. Vaccine hesitancy is found along similar demographic lines.

But in an indication of growing confidence in vaccines, separate statistics released by the ONS on Thursday show that 7% of adults in Britain reported vaccine hesitancy between March 31 and April 25. This is a fall from 9% earlier in the year, from January 13 to February 7.

Vaccine hesitancy is higher among minority groups (Picture: Reuters)

Dr Ben Kasstan, a medical anthropologist at the University of Bristol, said the data raised urgent questions about the delivery of the vaccination programme in ethnic and religious minority communities and lessons learned.

He said: ‘Putting issues in accessibility aside, policymakers need to look at how long-running issues of trust and social exclusion may be being directed towards the coronavirus vaccine programme, and thinking intersectionally across race, religion, and socioeconomic status will be essential as we move forward.’

Salman Waqar, general secretary of the British Islamic Medical Association, said the vaccine situation is ‘optimistic and much improved’ compared with the earlier surveys on take-up.

He said efforts – often led by Muslim healthcare professionals and imams – have successfully increased confidence and take-up, with the Government and NHS recognising the vital role of faith communities.

He continued: ‘Barriers still remain, some of which are well understood (such as historic inequalities, Islamophobia, targeted misinformation, non-inclusive services), and others need further exploration.

‘What is clear is that more work and investment is needed to continue the efforts in building confidence and easing access to vaccines in these communities, especially amongst younger cohorts.’

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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