Uptake of coronavirus vaccines among people from ethnic minority backgrounds has tripled since February, outpacing the national average across all ethnicities, England’s top GP has said.
Dr Nikita Kanani, medical director of primary care for NHS England, said “significant progress” has been made since the NHS set out an action plan to boost uptake among certain groups two months ago.
She told the Downing Street conference that concern around uptake felt “personal” to her “both as a GP and a woman of colour”.
“That’s why two months ago, on behalf of the NHS, I set out our action plan to boost uptake across people from ethnic minority backgrounds. I’m pleased to say we’ve made really significant progress,” she said.
“Since we set out our plan in February, uptake from all ethnic minority backgrounds has tripled, outpacing the national average across all ethnicities.”
Dr Kanani added: “Take up from people from a Pakistani background is more than four times higher than it was in February and there’s been a five-fold increase in people taking up the vaccine from a Bangladeshi background.
“The progress is a direct result of a combination of NHS teams who know and understand their communities, community and faith leaders who’ve worked really closely with us, practical considerations about Ramadan and other local nuances, and really strong vocal backing from high-profile people such as Bake Off’s Nadia Hussain, comedian Lenny Henry and TV star Adil Ray.”
NHS England data shows that uptake has tripled among ethnic minority groups – from 1.89 million on February 7 to 5.78 million by April 7.
Uptake among Bangladeshi groups rose five-fold from 29,382 to 152,408 over the same period. And it increased four-fold among Pakistani groups, from 88,956 to 367,780.
The data also estimates that 61.6% of people of black Caribbean ethnicity aged 50 and over had received a first dose as of April 7 – the lowest proportion of all ethnic groups. This compares to 93.8% of those in the white British group.
Some 64.9% of people over 50 of black African ethnicity and 62.7% of those from any other black background are estimated to have had a first dose.
For people over 50 from a Pakistani background, 73.1% are estimated to have received a first dose, and 83.7% of over-50s in the Bangladeshi group.
In February, the owner of home care group expressed his frustration over the “poor messaging” around COVID-19 vaccines that is “failing to reach diverse audiences and encourage take-up” among Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups.
Nicholas Kelly, who runs Axela, a group made up of three home care agencies and a training company, said at the time that just 10% of his workforce – over 90% of whom are from an ethnic minority background – have chosen to have the vaccine.
He believes poor communication is to blame and has called for the government and media outlets to go further in addressing “vaccine hesitancy”.