Around four in 10 over-70s in England from Black African backgrounds had not received a Covid-19 vaccine even four weeks on from the date they were meant to, new figures suggest.
Vaccination rates for this ethnic group up to March 11 are estimated to be 58.8%, the lowest among all ethnic minority groups, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
For people aged 70 and over identifying as Black Caribbean the estimated rate is 68.7%, with rates of 72.7% and 74.0% for people from Bangladeshi and Pakistani backgrounds respectively.
The figures come despite a highly publicised £23m government drive to address concerns about low vaccine uptake among ethnic minority communities, which saw trusted figures urging people to be mindful of misinformation about the jab.
A spokesperson for Boris Johnson told reporters on Monday: “We have called on everybody who is invited to come forward and receive a vaccine to do so.
“You are aware of the work we have undertaken and the work that the NHS has undertaken to encourage people from all different communities across the UK to come forward and receive a vaccine.
“We’ve backed community champions with £23m to lead grassroots activity and promote the importance of coming forward to take your vaccine.
“The NHS has opened nearly 50 sites in places of worship and ethnic communities, including in major cities such as Birmingham and London.
“And we’ve obviously got TV and radio partnerships in place to promote pro-vaccine content to communities up and down the country.”
The estimated take-up rate for people identifying as white British was 91.3%.
The rates for people from Bangladeshi (72.7%) and Pakistani (74.0%) backgrounds are slightly higher, with vaccination rates also differing by religious affiliation. The lowest vaccination rate being amongst those who identified as Muslims (72.3%), followed by Buddhists (78.1%); lower rates were also observed amongst Sikhs (87.0%) and Hindus (87.1%).
Disabled people who reported being limited in their day-to-day activities had lower rates of vaccination (86.6%) compared with those who were non-disabled (91.0%).
Those living in more deprived areas were less likely to have been vaccinated than those living in less deprived areas. The most deprived areas had a take-up among over-70s of 87%, compared with 92.1% for the least deprived areas.
Ben Humberstone, head of health and life events at the ONS, said: “Vaccination rates are markedly lower amongst certain groups, in particular amongst people identifying as Black African and Black Caribbean, those identifying as Muslim, and disabled people.
“These differences remain after accounting for geography, underlying health conditions and certain indicators of socio-economic inequality.”
Differences in geography, socio-demographic factors and underlying health conditions do not fully explain the lower vaccination rates among ethnic minority groups, the ONS found.
Statistical modelling showed the odds of not having received a dose of the vaccine were 7.4 times greater for people from Black African backgrounds compared with people of white British ethnicity.
After adjusting for age, sex, socio-demographic characteristics and underlying health conditions, the odds were still 5.5 times greater.
This indicates that the factors included in the model explained only about 30% of the unadjusted differences in the odds of not having been vaccinated, the ONS said.
After adjusting for age, sex, socio-demographic characteristics and underlying health conditions, the odds of not having received a dose of Covid-19 vaccine were 4.0 times greater for people aged 70 and over from Black Caribbean backgrounds compared with people of white British ethnicity.
For other ethnic minority groups the odds of having been vaccinated were 3.3 times worse for Pakistani people, 3.2 for Bangladeshi people, 2.7 for people with Chinese backgrounds, 2.2 for people from mixed backgrounds and 2.4 for everyone else outside the white British group.
When looking at religious affiliation, using the same adjustments, the ONS found the odds of not having the vaccine were 3.0 times greater for people identifying as Muslim compared with people identifying as Christian.
For other religions the odds were 2.3 times worse for Buddhists, 1.2 times worse for atheists, 1.1 times worse for Hindus, 1.1 times worse for Sikhs, and no different for Jewish people.
Responding to the stats, shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “These take up figures must be a cause for deep alarm. I’ve seen this directly in my own Leicester South constituency.
“We need a plan where local community and faith groups are fully resourced to work alongside public health teams, primary care and community pharmacy to drive up rates by building trust and ensuring access to vaccination.
“It would be totally unacceptable for any community to be left vulnerable to infection because of inaction.”
Figures released by NHS England earlier this month revealed a Covid-vaccine take-up of under 30% among clinically extremely vulnerable people from some ethnic minority communities in Birmingham.
Only 21.74% of clinically extremely vulnerable people of Arab ethnicity, 23.36% from Bangladeshi backgrounds and 27.15% of Pakistani ethnicity had been given a first dose by February 23, compared to 84.47% of Irish and 79.30% of British clinically extremely vulnerable people in the region.