Covid: BAME inequalities remain in vaccine uptake

By Jack Grey
BBC News

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Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
The number of BAME people getting their vaccines has been broken down in Public Health Wales figures

Inequalities remain between the number of black, Asian, and minority ethnic people having the Covid vaccine and white people.

Uptake for BAME people is at least 10% lower in almost every age group, latest data from Public Health Wales shows.

The largest difference was in adults aged 55-59, where 77% of BAME people have received one dose, compared to 89% of white people.

Ray Singh, of Race Council Cymru (RCC), said there was "still hesitancy".

The gap in uptake has narrowed slightly since February, but large inequalities remain across the board.

When the first statistics were released showing a discrepancy between vaccine uptake in ethnic groups, Mr Singh, RCC's chairman, said it was a "race against time, a question of life and death".

In response to the most recent figures, he said: "There's a lot of work going on, but there's still hesitancy in certain groups. Still there is a lot of work to be done.

"The various bodies are now quite proactively getting involved in moving this forward, like the Pakistani, Bangladeshi and black African doctors' associations, and church leaders and so forth.

"Many don't have confidence in the service they've received, the way they have been treated in the past, so they have all these things they conjure up in their minds that 'this is not for us'.

Image source, Ray Singh
Image caption,
Ray Singh has received both doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and urges other to do the same

"This is something that has to be tackled, it can't be left, because it is absolutely vital that everyone has the vaccine.

"People need to be approached by individuals that know them, as opposed to just telling them you've got to have the vaccine. There needs to be one on one involvement at this stage.

"I have had my second AstraZeneca jab, with no side effects. I did it to protect myself, my family, friends and work colleagues."

What do the statistics show?

The gap between white and BAME groups is the smallest for adults aged 50-54 at 5.9%, but all other age groups range from 9.9% to 12%.

While white people top the vaccine uptake numbers in every age group, there is substantial variation between different ethnic groups.

Media caption,
Shamim Abbas said despite Covid's devastating impact on her family, some relatives had been unsure about having their jabs

Black people have the lowest vaccination uptake across all age groups and, in the 55-59 age group, 68.3% have had a first dose of the vaccine compared to 89% of white people.

This 20.7% gap is the largest in vaccine coverage between any age or demographic group.

The data also shows a gap in vaccine coverage between those living in the most and least deprived areas, although these gaps are much less pronounced than gaps between ethnic groups.

The gap from least deprived areas and most deprived areas ranges from 2.4% in adults aged 75-79, to 7.6% in adults aged 50-54.

'No barriers'

Dr Gillian Richardson, Wales' deputy chief medical officer for vaccines, said: "It is vitally important all aspects of equity are considered throughout our vaccination programme.

"Our aim is to ensure every person is able to understand about the vaccines on offer and face no barriers like culture, faith concerns or languages, and so that any barriers to access are removed and anxieties addressed."

She added that the slight fall in the gap "has been achieved via a wide variety of engagement events, webinars in various languages, roundtables, Q&A events where people can 'ask the experts'.

"Each of the Welsh health boards and trusts have worked with their local teams to ensure no stone is unturned in reaching every single individual."