• Ethnic and minority group differences in engagement with COVID-19 vaccination programmes - at Pandemic Pace; when vaccine confidence in mass rollout meets local vaccine hesitancy.

      Reid, John A; orcid: 0000-0002-0073-398X; email: john.reid@chester.ac.uk; Mabhala, Mzwandile A (2021-05-27)
      Israel, the UK, the USA, and some other wealthier countries lead in the implementation of COVID-19 vaccine mass vaccination programmes. Evidence from these countries indicates that their ethnic minorities could be as disproportionately disadvantaged in COVID-19 vaccines roll-out as they were affected by COVID-19-related serious illnesses. Their disadvantage is linked to their lower social status and fewer social goods compared with dominant population groups.Albeit limited by methodology, early studies attribute lower uptake of COVID-19 amongst ethnic minorities to the wider determinants of vaccine uptake, hesitancy or lack of vaccine confidence, including lower levels of trust and greater concerns about vaccine safety. Early sentinel studies are needed in all early adopter countries.One emerging theme among those of reproductive age in minority communities concerns a worry regarding COVID-19 vaccine's potential adverse effect on fertility. Respected professional groups reassure this is not a credible rationale. Drug and vaccine regulators use understandable, cautious and conditional language in emergency licencing of new gene-based vaccines. Technical assessments on whether there is any potential genotoxicity or reproductive toxicity should be more emphatic.From a public health perspective, sentinel studies should identify such community concerns and act early to produce convincing explanations and evidence. Local public health workforces need to be diverse, multiskilled, and able to engage well with minorities and vulnerable groups. The local Directors of Public Health in the UK are based in each local government area and have a remit and opportunity to stimulate speedy action to increase vaccine uptake.During the rapid Pandemic Pace of the vaccines roll-out, extra efforts to minimise uptake variations are likely to achieve improvements in the next year or two. We expect variations will not disappear however, given that underlying inequalities persist in less inclusive social systems.