Failure to tackle vaccine hesitancy among BAME community and young women could be ‘devastating’, warns senior Conservative

Uptake of the coronavirus vaccine by people in BAME communities and among young women has remained substantially low

Members of the public in South London can are now being invited to receive their vaccine at a local Mosque (Picture: Getty Images)

A senior Conservative has warned the government that failing to tack vaccine hesitancy among the black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities and young women could prove “devastating”.

Caroline Nokes, the chair of the Commons Women and Equalities Committee, said the impact of not vaccinating these communities would prove problematic for these communities, as wider society.

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The UK government stated it is working alongside the NHS to "encourage people in all communities to come forward" for vaccination.

However, Nokes has accused the government of giving “insufficient attention” to the reasons for low uptake in BAME communities and among young women - in an open letter to vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi.

Nokes, a former government minister, warned that the government's lack of action to dispel unfounded concerns about the impact of the vaccine could result in further vaccine hesitancy among other groups.

The backbench MP said there were suggestions the Government is "not overly concerned" about the uptake of vaccines among young women amid unfounded concerns over fertility.

"This is not acceptable, we cannot adopt a wait and see approach," she said.

She urged the government to engage with community and faith leaders, and that introducing vaccine passports could have "a disproportionate impact on some members of the community".

In a statement, she added: "Failing to address these issues could be devastating for both vaccine hesitant groups and wider society.

"Ensuring that as many people as possible are vaccinated is essential to ensuring the virus is contained as we begin opening up from lockdown. Any compromise will certainly increase the chances of a further lockdown."

A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: "We have recently published a vaccines uptake plan and we are working closely with directors of public health, local authorities, charities and faith leaders to boost vaccine uptake.

"We have designed information and advice for communities across the country in multiple languages and sponsored content in hundreds of community newspapers, radio and TV channels as well as producing social media films with leading clinicians to answer questions about the Covid-19 vaccine."

In February, the British Medical Journal (BMJ) stated data showed a continuation of substantially lower rates of covid-19 vaccinations among over 80s in ethnic minority and deprived communities in England.

Similarly, NHS data showed lower covid-19 vaccination rates among ethnic minority healthcare workers, with 70 percent of in white workers vaccinated, in comparison 37 percent uptake from black workers and 58.5 percent uptake among South Asian workers.