Action needed to boost vaccine uptake amongst health workers

TACKLING misinformation and mistrust is key to reducing Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy amongst healthcare workers, a new UK study has found.

More than 11,500 multi-ethnic health workers were questioned for the first ever UK-REACH study into the risk of Covid-19 for those from ethnic minorities.

Almost a quarter (23 per cent) of respondents reported vaccine hesitancy. This view was most common amongst Black and minority ethnic workers, with the highest proportion being Black Caribbean (54 per cent), mixed white and Black Caribbean (38 per cent), and Black African ( 34 per cent). This compared to hesitancy reported by a fifth of white British respondents (21 per cent).

Figures were also higher amongst younger people, pregnant women, those who had not taken up the flu vaccine and those who had previously tested positive for Covid-19.

Researchers made a number of recommendations for tackling vaccine hesitancy, including:

  • addressing misinformation and mistrust
  • inclusive communications
  • involving healthcare workers in the vaccine rollout
  • promoting vaccination through trusted networks.

Dr Katherine Woolf, associate professor in medical education at University College London, said: "We urgently need strategies to build trust and dispel myths surrounding the Covid-19 vaccine, particularly within communities where there are greater levels of hesitancy.

"Public health communications should be inclusive, non-stigmatising and use trusted networks."

Dr Laura Nellums, assistant professor in global health at the University of Nottingham, said it was important to understand the concerns driving vaccine hesitancy in order to effectively address them.

She said: "The research demonstrates that addressing hesitancy will require tackling mistrust and misinformation through meaningful involvement of healthcare workers from diverse ethnic backgrounds."

General Dental Council Executive Director, Strategy, Stefan Czerniawski urged dental professionals to get vaccinated to protect themselves and patients.

He added: "This research shows that most healthcare workers – including dental professionals – recognise that vaccines are safe and effective, but that a minority remain hesitant.

"It’s important to understand the reasons for that so that concerns can be addressed, and take-up encouraged."

He encouraged registrants to read the regulator’s updated vaccination guidance for dental professionals and employers.