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Ethnic minorities ‘will take Covid jab from trusted doctors’

Ross Lydall
·3-min read
<p>Dr Winston Morgan, of the University of East London, said that, despite opinion polls suggesting that up to 72 per cent of black people would shun a jab, there was “no evidence” of vaccines being refused in practice</p> (REUTERS)

Dr Winston Morgan, of the University of East London, said that, despite opinion polls suggesting that up to 72 per cent of black people would shun a jab, there was “no evidence” of vaccines being refused in practice

(REUTERS)

Black and ethnic minority Londoners most at risk of Covid will accept a vaccine if it is offered by a trusted health professional, an expert predicted today.

Dr Winston Morgan, of the University of East London, said that, despite opinion polls suggesting that up to 72 per cent of black people would shun a jab, there was “no evidence” of vaccines being refused in practice.

Last week Newham’s director of public health Jason Strelitz told the Standard that he was being told by NHS officials of a “significant number of people not taking it up”.

But Dr Morgan said: “There is no evidence that the majority of BAME people on the high priority lists will not accept the vaccine if offered by health professionals they know and trust. What is described as vaccine hesitancy is more of a lack of enthusiasm or faith in the system that has failed certain groups in the past.

“If you do not believe from past experiences that medical treatments work well for people like you and in certain cases could harm you, not because of genetics linked to race, but because of structural disadvantages, you are unlikely to be enthusiastic when a new and what could be described as a controversial vaccine comes along.”

Research from doctors at Barts Health NHS trust, which admitted covid patients to five east London hospitals including the Nightingale in the first wave of the pandemic, found black and Asian patients were more likely to die.

Researchers found that ethnic minority patients were younger and less frail than white patients, but more likely to be admitted to ICU and to receive ventilation, meaning they had been hit harder by the disease.

The researchers, who studied the outcomes of 1,737 patients, 511 of whom died within 30 days of admission, said: “Our analyses suggest that patients of Asian and black backgrounds suffered disproportionate rates of premature death from Covid-19.”

Dr Morgan, who researches factors that contribute to poorer medical linked to race and ethnicity, recently featured on the Channel 4 documentary Is Covid Racist?

He said it was important “not overstate the case” about hesitancy as that could be “counter-productive” in terms of uptake and community relations. He also feared perceptions about vaccine hesitancy could become a “convenient excuse” if the Government failed to hit its vaccine targets.

He said: “What is described as vaccine hesitancy is more of a lack of enthusiasm or faith in the system that has failed certain groups in the past.

“If you do not believe from past experiences that medical treatments work well for people like you and in certain cases could actually harm you, not because of genetics linked to race, but because of structural disadvantages, you are unlikely to be enthusiastic when a new and what could be described as a controversial vaccine comes along.

“The reality is that until you are faced with a real choice, saying no to a vaccine you may never receive or may not work for you is a way of protecting yourself from disappointment.

“The greater challenge for the government is that as the pandemic persists and more variants arrive demand for the vaccine will increase and the most vulnerable and disadvantaged including who suffered most from Covid-19 first time around in the pandemic could find themselves missing out again.

“The temptation will be to blame hesitancy rather than the structural problems based on class and race which have always plagued healthcare delivery to BAME communities.”

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