'It is safe': Why the uptake of the Covid-19 vaccine among some black and asian people may be low

  • Watch the full report by ITV News Meridian's Ravneet Nandra:

Over 10 million people have been vaccinated against Coronavirus but figures show uptake of the jab among some black and asian people is low, and that's despite those groups being more susceptible to the virus.

New research has found just 69% of adults from these backgrounds were likely to have the vaccine - with black British adults the most hesitant, followed by Pakistani and Bangladeshi groups. That's compared to 85% of adults from white ethnic groups.

Famous faces from British black and Asian communities have fronted a video hoping to dispel myths around the Covid vaccine causing hesitancy.

Prominent figures such as comedian Romesh Ranganathan, writer and actor Meera Syal, cricket Moeen Ali, ITV News presenter Rageh Omaar and comedian Nina Wadia have all recorded their support for people to get vaccinated.

Research has shown take up for the jab among some black and Asian communities is low - and this campaign hopes to change that, by dispelling myths and reducing fears caused by misinformation.

  • Nina Wadia OBE, Actress/Comedia:

The main barrier to vaccine uptake in these communities has been found to be trust.  Research by SAGE has found low trust and confidence in the vaccine; low perception of risk; inconvenience; context and socio-demographic variation are the main reasons for a possible lack in vaccine uptake in these communities.

But Jayanti Shah, who's 71 years old, has already received his first dose and doesn't see why there is hesitancy among the communities.

Dr Gian Gopal, who's 78 years old, has already received his first dose and follows the Dharmic principles of Hinduism- the duty to look after people. 

  • Dr Gian Gopal, Oxford Hindu Temple Chairman:

But not everyone shares Jayantis and Dr Gopals enthusiasm for the jab and for health officials, that's worrying. 

Analysis released in December last year suggested that black, Asian and minority ethnic groups were worst hit by the pandemic because of where they live and work. People from Black African ethnic backgrounds are also twice as likely to die from the virus than white people.

The reasons for this go beyond ethnicity but the government says they have a plan. They've announced a community champions programme where local government identifies community leaders and backs them with resources of £23million to make available credible information for those who need it most.

  • Nadhim Zahawi MP, Covid-19 Vaccine Deployment Minister:

Research by the Office for National Statistics show a higher percentage of adults of White ethnic background (85%) reported they were likely to have the vaccine, compared with 69% of adults of ethnic minority background.

A higher proportion of Black or Black British adults (28%) reported that they would be unlikely to have the vaccine compared with adults of White (7%), Asian or Asian British (8%) or Mixed ethnicity (13%) background.

Of those who said they were unlikely to have the vaccine, over 6 in 10 adults of ethnic minority background (64%) reported they were worried about the side effects of the vaccine, compared with 45% of adults of White ethnic background.

But some say this type of research should be questioned and taken with a pinch of salt and we should all be doing out own individual research through reputable sources.

  • Carol Stewart, Medway African and Caribbean Association Chairperson:

At a more local level, Southampton community radio station Unity 101 broadcasts in 10 languages, from Cantonese to Urdu. They're trying to get the word out whilst working from home in the pandemic.

  • Ram Kalyan, station manager:

But Amish is a pharmacist from Wokingham. He thinks the older generation may struggle to find credible information.

  • Amish Parmer, Pharmacist:

In some parts of the country places of worship such as Mosques and Gurdwaras are opening as vaccine hubs but nothing as yet in the South. Dr Habib Naqvi, director of the NHS Race and Health Observatory, has said language and cultural barriers play a part in the false information being distributed.

  • Dr Habib Naqvi, director of the NHS Race and Health Observatory:

The vaccination drive is the biggest in the country's history but its success will ultimately depend on take up.  Something we all need to work together at.

More research from The Household Longitudinal Study and SAGE November 2020 Covid-19 questionnaire looked at vaccine uptake by ethnic group and found wide variations in who was thinking of having the vaccine.

  • 72% of Black or Black British people said that they were unlikely or very unlikely to be vaccinated against COVID. 

  • Pakistani and Bangladeshi groups were the next most hesitant minority ethnic group, with 42% unlikely or very unlikely to be vaccinated. 

  • In contrast, people from Indian groups were less hesitant, with 21% not willing to be vaccinated. 

Sangeeta Bhabra caught up with GP Dr Rupa Joshi from Berkshire to help dispel the myths surrounding the vaccine.