An increase in uptake of the Covid-19 vaccine among people from ethnic minority backgrounds is a ‘direct result’ of primary care teams working with community and faith leaders, the medical director of primary care for NHSE, Dr Nikki Kanani, has said.
Uptake of Covid-19 vaccines among ethnic minority groups increased from 1.89 million to 5.78 million between 7 February and 7 April, NHS England said.
Speaking at a Downing Street press conference on Tuesday (20 April), Dr Kanani commented: ‘One big area that I know rightly has been an area of concern, is uptake among people from ethnic minority backgrounds. That feels really personal to me, both as a GP and as a person of colour in our country.’
She added: ‘The progress is a direct result of a combination of NHS teams who know and understand their communities, community and faith leaders who’ve worked really closely with us.’
Dr Kanani also highlighted the impact made by specifically considering advice around Ramadan.
Uptake among ethnic minority groups increased by 235%, outpacing the national average among all ethnicities (154%) over the same period, NHSE said.
NHSE said that vaccine uptake among Bangladeshi groups increased five-fold from 29,382 to 152,408, while vaccination in Pakistani groups increased from 88,956 to 367,780.
Vigilance still crucial
In response, the NHS Confederation has welcomed the finding, but warned that the NHS must remain vigilant in the face of a predicted Covid surge later this year.
Dr Layla McCay, director of policy at the NHS Confederation, said that the significant increase in uptake among ethnic minority communities is ‘thanks to the innovative and dedicated work of leaders across the NHS – particularly in primary care’.
However, she warned that ‘the Government, the NHS, and the public must remain vigilant against the spread of Covid-19’, and that they ‘do not overestimate’ the current level of public protection against the virus.
She said: ‘With the Prime Minister’s recognition that another Covid-19 surge is predicted this year, it is essential that the health service be adequately supported to face this.
‘Despite everything the NHS has been doing for patients, 4.7 million people are already waiting for NHS treatment, and the Government must not allow future surges of the virus to hinder efforts to reduce the health service’s huge treatment backlog.’