Why are people vaccine shy?

Health, Work and Economic policies implemented to safeguard jobs and livelihoods during 2021 will no doubt affect the way people view the foreseeable future.

by Victor Cherubim

The end of COVID-19 could be closer than we think, or is it? With Astrazeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna vaccines now being distributed to parts of the world’s population,there is good reason to believe that a return to relative normality is imminent sooner rather than later.

Of course, it would be a different type of normality that we return to in a year’s time.

Health, Work and Economic policies implemented to safeguard jobs and livelihoods during 2021 will no doubt affect the way people view the foreseeable future.

Many people in the UK have been offered the vaccine but have turned it down. We hear little about them. What then is the reason for the reticence? While the media trumpets that over 58 percent of the Brits have been vaccinated, there seems to be unease of those who are vaccine shy? 

According to the data from Oxford University “Open Safely analysis just 4 % of the white population in the over 70’s age bracket are unvaccinated,compared to some say, as much as 37 % of the Black and Ethnic minority population.

What are some of the reasons for this situation?

The question of stopping infection and or transmission, the vaccine is not the “ be all and end all”. At the same time no vaccine can ever reach 100% take up. But as Spring blows into Summer and one year of the pandemic decimating large numbers of the population not only in UK and in Europe and around the globe, it is now high time that we need to be frank of the scale of the take up of the vaccine, among the black and Asian minority population. 

The most recent launch by Sir Lenny Henry to address this problem of hesitancy by black and ethnic minorities as well as others is in the news. As far as numbers are concerned 26 % of Black Caribbean, 22% of Chinese Brits and say 19% of Bangladeshi’s over the age of 70 have still to be vaccinated, according to Oxford University data, whereas only 4% of White British are in this category. 

Without taking this data out of context, we need to verify the real reason. 

We all know that there are pros and cons for any argument and vaccines are no exception. The expressed or unexpressed reluctance of taking the vaccine by some Black and Ethnic Minority (BAME) groups is due to the complicated history of medicine and race. Some suggest that non white people have been disproportionately affected by the virus deaths. People are on the edge because they don’t necessarily think that the pandemic has been handled particularly well for BAME people. This has naturally given rise to some being suspicious or concerned. Others state that people  are not feeling very trustworthy towards State led institutions as they have been used as guinea pigs. Besides, Black and Ethnic men and women have disproportionately died due to their Body Mass Index and existing medical condition. Further, ethnic minorities have not volunteered for clinical trials of the vaccines as whites, so they have not been properly assessed. 

For a lot of BAME there is mistrust in the effectiveness of the vaccine and trust in the vaccine correlates to their trust in the State and their long term detriments. 

We see viral hesitancy also among white population of Europe for the EU to keep arguing against efficacy and the issue of “blood clots” due to Astrazeneca vaccine deployment. 

It is quite natural that it is not Blacks and Ethnic minorities but Whites in Europe in particular who are made to be skeptical about certain vaccines by their regulatory bodies. All this is at the forefront of people’s consciousness,especially if they happen  to be old and have had past experiences of ill health.

Thus there are many factors besides race or perception why people are distrusting of the vaccine,”more than just trusting the process”.

Vaccines are here to stay and there is no doubt about that. Soon we may have research for vaccines for various mutants and at various seasons. COVID-19 has surprised one and all irrespective of race, colour or creed and may likely do so once again.

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