Covid vaccines are safe path to freedom, health experts say, as 25% of Londoners ‘unlikely to take jab’

Published: 27 November 2020

Post Desk : Health experts and community leaders today joined forces to urge Londoners to get the Covid-19 jab after a shocking poll suggested a quarter of Londoners are unlikely to have it.

They also warned of the threat of a “double tragedy” if people from black and other ethnic minority backgrounds, who are more at risk of dying from coronavirus, according to studies, remain in danger by not getting vaccinated.

The YouGov survey for the Mile End Institute, Queen Mary University of London, asked more than 1,000 Londoners in mid-November how likely or unlikely they were to have the Pfizer vaccine, which the pharmaceutical giant had recently announced was effective.

It found that 15 per cent said they were “very unlikely” to take it, and 10 per cent “fairly unlikely”, a total of 25 per cent. Fifty-eight per cent in total said they were likely to have the vaccination, and 17 per cent were “don’t know”.


Strikingly, people from black and ethnic minority backgrounds were far more reluctant to get the jab. Twenty-three per cent said they were “very unlikely” to have it, and 14 per cent “fairly unlikely,” a total of 37 per cent, compared with 17 per cent of white Londoners.
Just 39 per cent of the BAME respondents said they were likely to have the vaccination, compared with 70 per cent of white people.

Sophie Harman, professor of international politics specialising in global health at Queen Mary University of London, told the Standard: “Vaccines are safe. People should embrace the Covid-19 vaccine. Scientists and volunteers have impressed and inspired the world in finding a vaccine. Now we must all play our part and get the vaccine once it is available to us.”

Several studies have found that people from black and Asian backgrounds are more at risk of dying from Covid.

Prof Harman said: “Vaccine hesitancy risks a double tragedy, racial inequality in deaths from Covid-19 and potential racial inequality in vaccine uptake.”

The Government is to step up public health campaigns to persuade people to be vaccinated against coronavirus once jabs are approved by regulators, with the Pfizer one possibly getting the go-ahead as early as next week. The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has also been submitted for approval.

Professor Kevin Fenton, London director for Public Health England, said: “Vaccines are our most effective weapon against infectious diseases like Covid-19. Any new vaccines brought forward are subject to some of the highest safety standards in the world, including robust clinical trials, safety checks and quality controls.

“An effective vaccine remains one of the key routes out of this pandemic and back to normal life.”

Dr Manish Pareek, associate clinical professor in infectious disease at the University of Leicester, has raised serious concerns about the impact coronavirus has had on BAME communities.

He said: “With any preventative programme or public health intervention it is important that it’s culturally appropriate. There needs to be double efforts to ensure that message is clear, public health messaging is really important, making the vaccine easier to obtain for populations, language — all those things.”

The poll also showed that 19 per cent of women were “very unlikely” to get the vaccine and 11 per cent “fairly unlikely”, a total of 30 per cent, against 21 per cent for men. Among the generally more middle-class ABC1 group, 23 per cent were unlikely to have the jab, compared with 28 per cent for the generally more working-class C2DE group.

A similar picture is evident between inner and outer London: 22 per cent unlikely to accept the vaccination in the former, and 27 per cent in the latter.

Hesitancy was strongest among younger adults. Thirty-four per cent of Londoners aged 18-24 were unlikely to have the jab, 30 per cent of those 25-to-49, 20 per cent of the 50-64 group, and 11 per cent of those 65 and over. London minister Paul Scully said: “When the vaccination is here we can really get on top of Covid which will protect both lives and livelihoods so I would urge everybody to have the vaccination.”

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, said: “There is a lot of misinformation about vaccines, but the truth is that they have saved millions of lives around the world, and it will only be approved by the regulators for us to use once it has passed all the rigorous safety checks.”

Liberal Democrat health spokeswoman Munira Wilson said it was “deeply worrying that so many, particularly visible minorities, across London say they are unlikely to take the vaccine.”

YouGov interviewed 1,048 Londoners between November 16 and 19. Data are weighted.