In an editorial published in the British Medical Journal, we discuss the highly topical issue of Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy among ethnic minority groups. With mass Covid-19 vaccination efforts under way in many countries, including the UK, we need to understand and redress the disparities in its uptake. Data to 14 February 2021 show that over 90% of adults in Britain have received or would be likely to accept the covid-19 vaccine if offered. However, surveys have indicated much greater vaccine hesitancy among people from some ethnic minorities. In a UK survey in December 2020, vaccine hesitancy was highest among black, Bangladeshi, and Pakistani groups compared with people from a white ethnic background.
The legitimate concerns and information needs of ethnic minority communities must not be ignored, or worse still, labelled as “irrational” or “conspiracy theories.” We need to engage, listen with respect, communicate effectively, and offer practical support to those who have yet to make up their minds about the vaccine. Covid-19 vaccination is one of the most important public health programmes in the history of the NHS. Tackling vaccine hesitancy and ensuring that vaccination coverage is high enough to lead to herd immunity are essential for its success.