Since the launch of the NHS’s action plan to tackle vaccine hesitancy, there has been a sharp rise in the number of people taking up the vaccine in England. According to a new survey – involving 16,610 adults, surveyed nationally, between 9 and 27 April 2021 – there was an increase of more than a fifth of adults under 45 who would definitely get their vaccine. This was equal to 63% who said they would definitely be vaccinated, and 21% likely to be.
The data - carried out by ORB International and the Vaccine Confidence Project -found that confidence grew in men by 17%, and 27% in women under 45. There was also an increase in uptake in several ethnic and religious groups, including 21% in the Muslim community, and 18% of Christians who would definitely take up the vaccine.
Vaccine scepticism also decreased in Black British, and Asian communities during February and April. The celebrity vaccine campaign featuring Sir Lenny Henry and Nadiya Hussain, from the Great British Bake Off, led to more than 9 in ten of those eligible, getting their first jab.
GP and NHS National Medical Director for primary care, Dr Nikki Kanani, said: “Tackling vaccine hesitancy has been at the heart of the NHS vaccination programme (the biggest in NHS history) which has so far delivered more than 55 million doses across England.
“Since the NHS launched its action plan to encourage uptake in February, it has reached people from all communities and backgrounds through a combination of dedicated NHS teams who know and understand their communities, targeted engagement with faith leaders, pop-up clinics in places of worship, sports stadiums and local community centres, as well as strong, vocal backing from high profile voices like comedian Lenny Henry and TV star Adil Ray.”
East London GP Dr Farzana Hussain, contacted all of her patients who were due to get vaccinated, in order to increase the uptake in the Muslim community. Other initiatives included pop-up clinics, and vaccinating people in Mosques - one of more than 130 worship places used as vaccination sites in England.
More than 45 Twilight sites were set up to increase vaccine accessibility for those eligible, during a Ramadan campaign.
Dr Farzana Hussain, GP at The Project Surgery, said: “The increasing vaccine uptake among various ethnic and religious communities is no happy accident – it is fantastic to see the hard work of colleagues rewarded.
“This is a direct result of the work NHS teams have done with local communities and the data highlights that efforts such as those around Ramadan have not gone to waste, with more and more Muslims – as well as other previously hesitant groups – increasingly convinced that the vaccine is the right decision.”
NHS teams also worked with Local leaders within their communities to tackle misinformation on social media, to restore confidence in receiving the vaccine. This included translating information into more than 20 languages, giving everyone a fair opportunity.
As a result of the campaign, there was an 18% increase in under 45s from ethnic minority backgrounds, who were open to getting a vaccine, with a 9% reduction in the amount of Black people who would turn down the vaccine invitation.
Dr Alex de Figueiredo, Principal Investigator and Research Fellow, at the Vaccine Confidence Project said: “We have been monitoring the public’s views towards Covid-19 in the UK since before the vaccine rollout began.
“Although pockets of sub-optimal intent to vaccinate, remain in large urban settings, this data suggest large overall increases in intent to accept the vaccine across all socio-demographic groups, reflecting increases in perceptions towards the NHS immunisation programme.”