Around 15% of Brits Are Refusing the COVID-19 Jab, According to the Vaccines Minister

Annie Hayes
·2-min read
Photo credit: Images By Tang Ming Tung
Photo credit: Images By Tang Ming Tung

From Men's Health

The vaccine rollout is well and truly underway, with more than 12 million of the UK’s most vulnerable Brits now having had at least one dose of the jab – gradually nudging the nation ever-closer to the elusive end of lockdown restrictions.

It’s the highest uptake of any vaccination drive run by the NHS according to Nadhim Zahawi, the government minister heading up the jab’s deployment. Vaccinating vulnerable people is critical for reducing the pandemic’s death toll – which currently stands at 112,000 in the UK – and relieving pressure on the NHS.

“At the moment this is the highest uptake of any vaccination programme, including all of the flu vaccination programmes the NHS have run,” Zahawi told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “So currently the UK is a standout country in terms of people wanting to keep themselves safe by being vaccinated and keep their families and communities safe.”

But before you punch the air, around 15 per cent of Brits are refusing the coronavirus jab, Zahawi says. Since scientists reckon 85 per cent of the nation need to get the jab to achieve herd immunity – which prevents the virus from spreading – the figures mean we’re on the cusp of achieving this crucial step forward towards post-COVID life.

While we don’t know how the 15 per cent is split, uptake rates are currently lowest among BAME communities, who have more chance of catching coronavirus, as well as being at a greater risk of severe complications and death. A lack of trust and confidence in vaccine safety and efficacy remains one of the biggest barriers, according to the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).

“Minority ethnic groups have historically been underrepresented within health research, including vaccines trials, which can influence trust in a particular vaccine being perceived as appropriate and safe, and concerns that immunisation research is not ethnically heterogenous,” SAGE experts told the Guardian.

To tackle vaccine hesitancy, the government has set aside £23m for a ‘local champions programme’ to support local leaders in boosting uptake. “I am spending a lot of time with the NHS to make sure we... have a strategy of how we reach those hard-to-reach groups,” added Zahawi. Let’s hope everyone makes the right choice.

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