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/Getty Images

An 18-month study will investigate the factors that affect COVID-19 vaccine uptake among minority ethnic groups.

The project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and is a partnership between King’s College London, Birmingham City University and Public Health England (PHE).

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 which factors inhibit vaccine uptake.

Finding out what limits vaccine uptake

There is limited evidence of the reasons underpinning vaccine hesitancy in minority ethnic groups in the UK. It is potentially linked to beliefs about vaccine safety or efficacy and issues of mistrust towards formal services, as well as practical barriers like access.

Dr Julia Pearce from King’s College London said:

It is important to recognise that there are many reasons underpinning demographic differences in vaccine uptake, and it is not simply about the need for more or better information. However, effective risk communication informed by meaningful community engagement and an understanding of psychological drivers can undoubtedly play a vital role in supporting the public to make well-informed decisions.

Working directly with communities

The study will include 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 will also use 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.

I look forward to working with colleagues at King’s, PHE and across different local authorities to develop mechanisms for sharing tailored health messages and promote vaccine equity across diverse groups.

Last updated: 6 May 2021

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