History is key to understanding vaccine hesitancy in people of ...

Ideas

History is key to understanding vaccine hesitancy in people of colour

Distrust has its roots in ‘scientific’ experiments that aimed to prove racial superiority

Esan Swan

As the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine continues across the UK, with more than 14 million already having had the jab, in communities of colour there remains deep concern over its safety. Polls show people of colour are about 20% less likely to have a vaccination than the population as a whole. 

A new study by public health agencies about the UK found as many as 71% of black people and 42% of Pakistanis/Bangladeshis expressed hesitancy about getting the jab. This compares with 85% of white British and Irish saying they would be willing to have it. This data is alarming. Covid-19 mortality rates among black and ethnic minority communities in the UK are higher than those of white British people. But the hesitancy reveals persistent fears about government health campaigns that have plagued people of colour for decades.

It would be a mistake to dismiss these fears as simply a product of misinformation and conspiracy theories. To understand them, one must examine the past...

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