Disparities in COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake Among Health Care Workers in the UK

Pavankumar Kamat

November 11, 2021

A new study indicates that among UK health care workers (HCWs), those from ethnic minority backgrounds, those residing in more deprived areas, younger individuals and females had a lower likelihood of taking up COVID-19 vaccination. The findings were published in  PLoS Medicine.

It is well known that HCWs as well as ethnic minority groups have a higher risk of COVID-19 infection and adverse outcomes associated with it. COVID-19 vaccines have been made available to the frontline health care staff in the UK for a long time now; however, the influence of demographic/occupational factors on the vaccine uptake in this cohort is not fully understood.

Researchers performed cross-sectional surveillance to evaluate COVID-19 vaccine uptake among 19,044 HCWs at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust. 64.5% (n=12,278) of the workforce had received COVID-19 vaccination.

Compared with HCWs of White ethnicity (70.9%), the vaccination rate was significantly lower among HCWs from ethnic minority backgrounds (South Asian, 58.5%; Black, 36.8%; P<.001 for both).

After adjusting for confounders, factors that had a negative association with COVID-19 vaccine uptake included younger age (age ≤30 years: aOR, 0.48; P<.001), female sex, increased deprivation (most deprived Index of Multiple Deprivation quintile: aOR, 0.77 P<.001), pregnancy (aOR, 0.21; P<.001) and belonging to any non-White ethnic group (Black: aOR, 0.30; South Asian: aOR, 0.67; P<.001 for both). Staff in administrative and executive roles had higher uptake rates than the medical staff.

The authors stated: "Our findings indicate that there are many healthcare workers who have not accepted a vaccine against COVID-19, which has important implications for the risk of infection for the individual healthcare workers and for patients under their care."

They call for further research to better understand the barriers to COVID-19 vaccination in these groups and determine ways to overcome these barriers.

This article originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

Martin CA, Marshall C, Patel P, Goss C, Jenkins DR, Ellwood C, Barton L, Price A, Brunskill NJ, Khunti K, Pareek M. SARS-CoV-2 vaccine uptake in a multi-ethnic UK healthcare workforce: A cross-sectional study. PLoS Med. 2021;18(11):e1003823. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1003823. PMID: 34739480.

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