New figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggest older people from black African backgrounds are more than seven times as likely as white British people to have not received a coronavirus vaccine.
It is the first time the ONS has published analysis on vaccination rates in older people broken down by age, sex, ethnicity, religious affiliation, disability and deprivation.
It analysed vaccination data from the National Immunisation Management Service (NIMS) on people over 70 between December 8 and March 11, linking this to people’s NHS numbers.
What do the figures show?
Vaccination rates in England up to 11 March were markedly lower in the over-70s who identify as black African and black Caribbean, Muslim, and disabled.
The rate for people in the black African group receiving a first vaccine dose was estimated to be 58.8 per cent – the lowest among all ethnic minority groups. The estimated rate for people identifying as white British was 91.3 per cent.
The ONS’ statistical modelling found the odds of people from black African backgrounds not having been jabbed were 7.4 times greater than the odds for the white British group.
They remained 5.5 times greater when age, sex, socio-demographic characteristics and underlying health conditions were accounted for.
For people aged 70 and over identifying as black Caribbean the estimated rate of vaccination was 68.7 per cent, with rates of 72.7 per cent and 74.0 per cent for people from Bangladeshi and Pakistani backgrounds respectively.
Vaccination rates also differed by religious affiliation, the ONS found.
The lowest rates were among those who identified as Muslim (72.3 per cent) or Buddhist (78.1 per cent), with lower rates also observed among those identifying as Sikh (87.0 per cent) and Hindu (87.1 per cent).
The figures for people identifying as Jewish and Christian were 88.8 per cent and 91.1 per cent respectively.
The vaccination rate among people aged 70 and over living in the most deprived areas of England was 87.0 per cent, compared with 92.1 per cent in the least deprived, the ONS said.
Disabled people who reported being limited a lot in their day-to-day activities had a vaccination rate of 86.6 per cent, compared with 91.0 per cent of non-disabled people.
The modelling found that people of black Caribbean background were 4.7 times more likely and people identifying as Bangladeshi were 3.9 times more likely than white British adults to have not been jabbed, before adjustments.
Muslims were 3.9 times more likely to have not been vaccinated than Christians, while Buddhists were 2.8 times more likely.
What do the results mean?
Ben Humberstone, of health analysis and life events at the ONS, said: “Vaccination rates are markedly lower amongst certain groups, in particular amongst people identifying as black African and black Caribbean, those identifying as Muslim, and disabled people.
“These differences remain after accounting for geography, underlying health conditions and certain indicators of socio-economic inequality.”
Layla Moran, Liberal Democrat MP and chairwoman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus, said: “These stark figures reveal the deeply alarming low uptake of the vaccine among ethnic minority groups, who we know are particularly vulnerable to serious disease from Covid-19.
“This confirms the evidence our cross-party inquiry heard last month, which underlined the need to work with local communities, leaders and places of worship to build trust in the vaccine.
“The Government and NHS must urgently step up efforts to tackle vaccine hesitancy among ethnic minority groups,” she added. “That means building on some of the successful community-led initiatives we have seen, rather than relying on national campaigns from central Government.”