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Vaccine uptake for over 70s lowest among Muslims

9th Apr 2021

Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits the Al-Hikmah Vaccination Centre in Batley, Yorkshire, during the Covid-19 pandemic. (Credit:Andrew Parsons /No 10 Downing Street)

Hamed Chapman

The lowest vaccination rate among people aged over 70 in England are those who identified themselves as Muslim, according to the first official breakdown of immunisation data conducted by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Whilst the worst uptake is among people aged 70 and over with a Black African heritage numbering only 58.8 percent followed by 68.7 percent identified as Black Caribbean, among those of Bangladeshi and Pakistani heritages the rate was next lowest of just 72.7 percent and 74.0 per cent respectively.

In contrast, the ONS found that 90.2 percent of all over-70s residents in England had received at least one jab for Covid-19 between December 8 and March 11, but the proportion was lower among all minority ethnic groups. Other factors causing lower rates appeared to be those living in more deprived areas, people with disability status and residents of care homes. Fears are that lower uptake could jeopardise the integrity and effectiveness of the UK’s rollout of the vaccine

. “These stark figures reveal the deeply alarming low uptake of the vaccine among ethnic minority groups, who we know are particularly vulnerable to serious disease from Covid-19,” Layla Moran, the Liberal Democrat Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus, said.“This confirms the evidence our cross-party inquiry heard last month (February), which underlined the need to work with local communities, leaders and places of worship to build trust in the vaccine. The Government and NHS must urgently step up efforts to tackle vaccine hesitancy among ethnic minority groups,” she warned.

The highest rates of vaccination were among white Brits (91.3 per cent) and those of Indian heritage (86.2 per cent). Overall uptake was also slightly higher for females in general (90.4 per cent) than males (90.0 per cent).

Regarding religious affiliation, the highest uptake was for people identifying as Christian (91.1 per cent), Jewish (88.8 per cent), Hindu (87.1 per cent), Sikh (87.0 per cent), Buddhist (78.1 per cent) and Muslim (72.3 per cent).
Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said the figures must be a “cause for deep alarm” and that it was “totally unacceptable for any community to be left vulnerable to infection because of inaction.”

“We need a plan where the local community and faith groups are fully resourced to work alongside public health teams, primary care and community pharmacy to drive up rates by building trust and ensuring access to vaccination,” Ashworth warned.
Zubaida Haque, a race equality expert and member of the Independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Independent SAGE), described the data as worrying and warned it could jeopardise the effectiveness of the UK’s vaccine rollout programme.We should be extremely concerned that there are such huge disparities in vaccination levels from different ethnic groups because it’ll make it much harder to reach herd immunity,” she said.

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