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Covid vaccination: what can the Government do to improve disparity in uptake rates?

1 March 2021

While the covid vaccination programme so far has overall been a great success, data shows some disparities in uptake rates in different groups in society. These differences appear to be mostly around race, religion and sex.

The aim of this evidence session is to try and understand the reasons behind these differences and explore what action the Government can take to close the gap and support a more equal uptake of the vaccine.

Chair's comments

Committee Chair Caroline Nokes said:

“The reasons for disparities in vaccine uptake are complex. Some of the groups with lower uptake rates are also among those who are at greater risk from covid, which is especially worrying. The Government must improve its understanding of why this is happening - and then take action to support more equal uptake. This problem must be solved urgently, or there is a real risk that existing health inequalities will be further exacerbated.”

Purpose of the session

The main aims of the session are to explore these issues:

  • How different minority communities are responding to the Covid vaccine – what are the different take up rates?

  • What are the reasons behind low Covid vaccine uptake in different communities?

  • What more can be done by the Government or other players to increase vaccinations?

  • What could the impact be if vaccine take up remains low in certain communities?

  • What is the vaccine uptake amongst women who are already being offered vaccinations? How are young women are expected to respond to the vaccine when it is rolled out to the vast majority?

  • What are the fears of young women on the vaccine and how can the Government act to encourage take up?

  • How might wider society be impacted by reduced vaccine uptake in young women?

Discussion is likely to focus on these topics:

Panel 1

  • How have BAME communities been impacted by the pandemic (including differences in age and sex)? How might this inform particular views towards vaccinations?

  • Vaccine hesitancy: where there is greater vaccine hesitancy within some BAME communities, what are the reasons? How can these be better understood, and what can be done to encourage increased levels of vaccination?

  • Impact on communities and wider society: what are the potential effects on BAME communities, the NHS and wider society and economy if lower uptake of the COVID 19 vaccine continues?

  • Community and Government action: the Government has already taken some action to increase vaccine uptake in BAME communities. How effective this has been? What more can be done by the Government, Public Health England and others to reduce vaccine hesitancy?

Panel 2

  • Vaccine hesitancy in young women: the history of vaccine hesitancy in young women and how this may be impacting views around COVID 19

  • COVID 19 and young women: what has impact been on young women and the sectors that heavily employ women of child-bearing age? What data is available to help us to understand why young women may be reluctant to receive a COVID 19 vaccine?
  • Impact on wider society: What might the impact be if significant numbers of young women are not vaccinated against the virus? What action is being taken by Government and others, and what more can be done to encourage wider uptake?

Witnesses

Thursday 4 March 2021

At 2.30pm-3.30pm:

  • Zara Mohammed, Secretary General, Muslim Council of Britain

  • Dr Ranj Singh, NHS Doctor, ITV’s This Morning

  • Dr Christine Ekechi, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Imperial College

  • Pastor Dr Shola Ideaga, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Pastor, Jesus House

At 3.30pm-4.30pm:

  • Dr Mary Ross-Davie, Director for Scotland, Royal College of Midwives

  • Professor Nicola Stonehouse, Professor or Molecular Virology, University of Leeds

  • Lucy Chappell, NIHR Research Professor in Obstetrics, Kings College London

Further information

Image: Whispyhistory, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons