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News article

Tackling COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in Black communities

Published: 01 June 2021

  •   Featured
  •   Research
A woman in a face mask having a post vaccination plaster applied to her arm

The latest figures from the ONS show around 1 in 3 Black or Black British adults reported COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, the highest compared with all ethnic groups. Now, academics from York St John are working with Black Health Initiative (BHI) to unpick the reasons why. 

Researchers have spent two months conducting surveys about attitudes to COVID-19 vaccines and about hospitals, doctors and healthcare workers in general.  The team focused on a number of factors, however the main one is medical mistrust.   

The work is being done on behalf of Black Health Initiative (BHI), a community engagement organisation that works with partners to address inequalities and inequities of access and services in education, health and social care.  BHI commissioned the study to look at the issue of COVID-19 vaccination hesitancy in the context of health disparities and wider medical mistrust. It’s hoped that this will provide deeper insights into what’s driving the vaccine hesitancy and how it can be tackled. 

Chief Executive Officer of Black Health Initiative (BHI) Heather Nelson JP said: It was obvious from our Webinar ‘CoVID Vaccination Conversation’ that there were questions to be answered before the uptake of the vaccination. The distrust of health providers and the NHS due to many factors were coming through and the blanket national drive was neither reaching nor addressing issues, of those who had repeatedly been reported as being ‘vaccine hesitant'.   

“Medical distrust has been voiced time and time again to us as those supporting community members in relation to their lived experience of the medical system. Thus, we had an interest in what would emerge from research in relation to COVID-19 vaccination hesitancy.    

With this report, BHI will be able to provide evidence to policy and decision makers who hold the responsibility for the Health and Wellbeing of all citizens. It is hoped that this will work towards addressing whatever issues are raised and continue on the path of whatever is reported as working.  

Divine Charura, Professor of Counselling Psychology at York St John University and practitioner psychologist and psychotherapist said: “It is important to understand the underlying psychological characteristics and constructs associated with COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy. Our research on mattering, medical mistrust and vaccine hesitancy, will help us understand how the lived experience of those from diverse communities influence their decision-making process, health beliefs and health behaviours.”   

Andrew P. Hill, Professor of Sport and Exercise Psychology at York St John University is an expert in motivation. He said: Fear is highly motivational to not do something. It's a powerful driver of avoidance strategies. People who have heart attacks often fear exercise afterwards even though it will help them, because they fear uncertainty. 

The survey has now closed and the team are analysing the data. The results will be published later this year.   

Read more about Black Health Initiative here  

Read more about Professor Divine Charura’s work here 

Read more about Professor Andrew P. Hill’s work here 

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