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Josie Dickerson, Bridget Lockyer, Rachael H. Moss, Charlotte Endacott, Brian Kelly, Sally Bridges, Kirsty L. Crossley, Maria Bryant, Trevor A. Sheldon, John Wright, Kate E. Pickett, Rosemary R.C. McEachan
Background: The roll out of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines are now underway in the UK, and ensuring good uptake in vulnerable communities will be critical to reducing hospital admissions and deaths. There is emerging evidence that vaccine hesitancy is higher in ethnic minorities and deprived areas, and that this may be caused by misinformation in the community. This study aims to understand COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in an ethnically diverse and deprived population.
Methods: Questionnaire surveys were sent to parents in the Born in Bradford study. Cross tabulations explored variation by ethnicity and deprivation. Text from open-ended questions was analysed using thematic analysis.
Results: 535 (31%) of 1727 invited between 29th October-9th December 2020 participated in the study. 154 (29%) of respondents do want a vaccine, 53 (10%) do not. The majority had not thought about it (N=154, 29%) or were unsure (N=161, 30%). Vaccine hesitancy differed significantly by ethnicity and deprivation: 43% (95% CIs: 37-54%) of White British and 60% (35-81%) in the least deprived areas do want a vaccine, compared to 13% (9-19%) of Pakistani heritage and 20% (15-26%) in the most deprived areas. Those that distrusted the NHS were more likely to not want a vaccine (30%, 15-50%). Reasons for not wanting a vaccine were commonly explained by confusion and distrust caused by prevalent misinformation.
Conclusions: There is a much higher level of vaccine hesitancy in ethnic minorities, those living in deprived areas and those that distrust the NHS. There is an urgent need to tackle the overwhelming misinformation about COVID-19 that is leading to this uncertainty and confusion about the vaccines. If not addressed there is a high risk of unequitable roll out of the vaccination programme in the UK.