23% Of British Health Workers Wary of Covid Vaccine, According to New Research

New research, which has not yet been peer reviewed, suggests that almost a quarter of British healthcare workers are hesitant about taking a Covid vaccine. Key reasons include concern about the speed of vaccine development, presuming Covid immunity because of previous infection and a lack of trust in the Government. As expected, ethnicity was also a major factor. The Guardian has the story.

Up to a quarter of British healthcare workers have expressed hesitancy towards Covid vaccines, the first comprehensive study of NHS and care staff suggests. Conspiracy beliefs, a paucity of black and ethnic minority participants in vaccine trials, or assuming immunity to Covid because of previous infection were some of the key reasons cited.

“Understanding these drivers is important, because without this understanding you can’t implement any interventions,” said Dr Manish Pareek, Associate Clinical Professor in Infectious Diseases at the University of Leicester who led the study.

Pareek and his colleagues previously identified lower rates of vaccine uptake among black and south Asian health staff, workers under 30, and those living in more deprived areas. To better understand the reasons for this hesitancy, they recruited 11,584 clinical and non-clinical staff working for the NHS and other health providers, such as dental practices and pharmacies. As well as completing detailed questionnaires about their attitudes to Covid vaccination, some of the participants were interviewed more extensively to better understand their concerns.

The research… found that 23% of health staff, were hesitant about Covid vaccines, and that hesitancy was more common among BAME health workers, particularly those from black Caribbean groups. However, some white healthcare workers were also hesitant, particularly those in white other ethnic groups. Younger staff, pregnant women and those who had not taken up the flu vaccine were also more hesitant – as were those who had previously tested positive for Covid…

Other leading reasons for hesitancy included concerns about how safe the vaccine was due to the speed of development and – particularly for black African and Caribbean health workers – the lack of ethnic diversity in vaccine studies. Experiences of discrimination and structural inequalities also contributed to hesitancy among these groups.

New NHS data shows that almost a fifth of staff at older care homes in England have still not had a first dose of a Covid vaccine. The Government is currently conducting a consultation on whether to make Covid vaccination a “condition of deployment” for care home staff.

The Guardian’s report is worth reading in full.

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