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Study uncovers ‘substantial’ disparity in Covid vaccine uptake by region

Study uncovers ‘substantial’ disparity in Covid vaccine uptake by region

There has been a ‘substantial’ disparity between Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships’ (STPs) vaccination coverage of the over 80s group, according to a study.

Researchers analysed the health record data of 23 million people between December 8 and January 13 – and found almost one million received a Covid-19 vaccination in this period, with considerable variation in uptake between geographical areas and patient demographics. 

The study – carried out by the University of Oxford and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine – calculated vaccination data among over 80s for 25 of England’s 42 STPs (60%), and found ‘substantial variation’ between them, ranging from 12% to 74% coverage. 

The researchers said ‘most’ but not all STPs also displayed lower vaccination rates among ethnic minority and deprived groups. 

The study found that most (17 of 25) STPs had higher vaccination coverage among the white population compared with the black population. Among 18 STPs, the average disparity was 21.5%, but the greatest disparity was over 31%, the report said.

The researchers said they could not be certain of the ethnicity disparity rate for the remaining STPs, adding ‘some may have greater disparities between other ethnic groups’.

The vast majority of STPs (20 out of 25) similarly had higher vaccination coverage for the over 80s living in the least deprived areas than the most deprived areas, but this disparity was generally smaller, the report said, with an average of 12%. 

However, five STPs had higher coverage in the most deprived areas, it added.

The study found that four in 10 (41%) of the over one million patients aged 80 or over targeted by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) had been vaccinated by January 13.

The picture of disparity in vaccination coverage within STPs tallies with the overall variation seen across England, according to the report. 

The researchers said they observed ‘substantial divergence in vaccination by ethnicity’ among over 80s nationwide, with a vaccination coverage of 42.5% among the white population, compared to 20.5% in the black population. Similarly, the coverage for the least deprived was 45%, while for the most deprived it was 38%. 

Patients with pre-existing medical conditions were equally likely, or more likely, to have received a vaccine across most comorbidity groups with two exceptions – those with severe mental illness (30% vaccinated) and learning disability (28%), the study found.

The researchers concluded that ‘targeted activity may be needed to address lower vaccination rates observed among certain key groups: ethnic minorities, people living in areas of higher deprivation, and those with severe mental illness or learning disabilities’.

‘We are currently discussing with the NHS the best way to systematically disseminate these reports to STP level teams; these charts are available on request,’ they added.

The news comes as NHS England has appointed primary care medical director Dr Nikki Kanani and NHS chief people officer Prerana Issar to lead a team to boost Covid vaccine uptake among minority groups by targeting staff from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.

A version of this article was first published by Pulse’s sister title Healthcare Leader


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Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

John Glasspool 30 January, 2021 2:27 pm

Perhaps the researchers need to roll up their sleeves and help the less-favoured areas?

Doc Pop 1 February, 2021 7:26 am

To those of you working in CCGs who are trying to micromanage the movement of AZ vaccine within your PCN grouping between your PCN designated site and associated GP practices, Annex B of the following NHSE Policy document published on 25th January might help.