New NHS figures show the county’s leafy suburbs and rural areas currently have much higher vaccination rates than the region’s city centres.
To give just one comparison, while in Newby & Scalby in North Yorkshire 94 per cent of over-50s have had a jab, that falls to only 46 per cent of the same age-group living in Harehills in inner-city Leeds.
While online disinformation has frequently been blamed for lower uptake rates in some BAME communities, as Heather Nelson, from the Leeds-based Black Health Initiative and a board member of the NHS Race and Health Observatory, has previously observed in the pages of this newspaper, long-standing mistrust dating back to past health scandals and racial disparities in health treatment have also played a part in people being reluctant to get jabs.
This view is also shared by the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies, who warned in January that both discrimination and “historical issues of unethical healthcare research” were part of the reason for vaccine hesitancy in black communities.
There are no easy answers – but it is vital that urgent work is done in properly communicating the safety and efficacy of vaccines in a way that reassures people and allows them to make informed choices.
Such efforts are particularly vital given the very communities most reluctant to have vaccines are the ones which have suffered the highest death tolls from Covid-19.
It is a complex undertaking of research, role models and trust – get those right, alongside improving accessibility, and we will save lives.
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