2022-05-06| COVID-19

Link Between Ethnic Discrimination and Slow Vaccination Rate? New Study Shows

by Fujie Tham
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New research from the United Kingdom looking into ethnic discrimination and COVID-19 vaccination reluctance published by Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine revealed that nearly 1 out of 10 people with minority backgrounds experienced discrimination in a medical environment since the pandemic started.

The study involved over 600 adults from ethnic minority groups who were offered a COVID-19 immunization shot between December 2020 and June 2021. Its modeling results suggested a nearly four-fold total effect of racial/ethnic discrimination on refusing the vaccine which was caused by low trust in the UK health system. 

Participants in the UCL COVID-19 Social Study were classified based on their recent answers to two questions: vaccinated vs. offered but declined. Within the participants, the most common ethnic group who accepted the inoculation was Asian/Asian British at 29.62%, however, they still accounted for 13.85% in the vaccine refusal group, hinting at higher vaccine hesitancy. Participants who experienced discrimination in a medical facility were almost seven times higher in the vaccine refusal group (6.69%) than in the vaccine acceptance group (0.98%).

Paper’s lead author Dr. Elise Paul, Senior Research Fellow in Epidemiology and Statistics at University College London said: “Our findings confirm evidence from before the current pandemic, which found associations between experiences of racial discrimination and distrust of the health care system and physicians among ethnic minority adults.”

Related article: Vaccine Inequity, How Pandemic Becomes Endemic


UK COVID-19 Public Inquiry Begins


With an inquiry set to begin soon, the UK government announced a draft reference saying that it will examine and report on governmental preparations and responses to the pandemic in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. Topics are split into three categories: central, devolved, and local public health decision-making and its consequences; the response of the healthcare sector across the UK; and the economic responses to the pandemic and its impact, including government interventions.

Believed to be the biggest public inquiry to date, papers like this research could be examined. The researchers said that their findings underscore the importance of the role of the National Health Service in regaining trust from ethnic minority groups to increase vaccine uptake among these diverse groups, and strategies to prevent racial and ethnic discrimination and support people who have experienced discrimination.

Above findings indicate that healthcare institutions such as the National Health Service need to gain the confidence and trust of ethnic minority groups. Public health push to increase COVID-19 immunization in ethnic minorities should not only include vaccine trust-building, but also fortify strategies in preventing racial discrimination and assist ethnic minorities who have experienced discrimination.

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