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Covid jab uptake amid BAME over-70s severely trails white peers, finds ONS

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Over-70s from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds have been far less likely to have their Covid jab than their white peers, with Black Africans the least likely to come forward.

New analysis from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), published today, showed that 90.2% of all over-70s in England had received at least one dose between 8 December and 11 March.

But the percentage vaccinated was lower among all ethnic minority groups compared with the White British population (which had a 91.3% uptake rate), with the lowest rates among:

  • Black African people – 58.8%
  • Black Caribbean people – 68.7%
  • Bangladeshi people – 72.7%
  • Pakistani people – 74.0%

The ONS further stressed the discrepancy was ‘not fully explained by differences in other geographical and socio-demographic factors or underlying health conditions’.

It comes as GPs have been working to boost uptake in BAME groups amid widely circulating misinformation regarding vaccine safety.

This has included GPs phoning patients individually to discuss their decision, with Pulse reporting on one practice which managed to convince almost 70% of patients who refused their invitation to reconsider.

Meanwhile, NHS England has allocated an additional £3m to CCGs to help areas set up long term plans to address Covid vaccine inequalities, as Pulse’s sister title Healthcare Leader reports.

Applications will be prioritised from areas that are assessed as having ‘significant vaccine inequalities and that have not received community champion funding’, address a historically underserved community, or those that propose ‘novel or innovative approaches’.

This follows an earlier allocation of £4.2m made in February.

NHS England has also put together a ‘specialist equalities team’ to address low rates of vaccine uptake, as well as a team to support ‘effective communication’ with BAME healthcare staff, led by primary care director Dr Nikki Kanani.