Since January 2021, over 15,000 people have shared their views and experiences of the COVID-19 vaccine with Healthwatch. We’ve been able to use this information to quickly raise concerns with the Government, NHS England and other stakeholders throughout the vaccine roll-out programme.
Although overall feedback has been positive, Healthwatch England found that a minority of people from specific communities remain uncertain whether taking the vaccine is right for them. To understand why, what was lacking from the current roll-out strategy and help address concerns, we commissioned Traverse to look at groups with lower vaccine take-up.
This research included in-depth conversations and online exercises with 95 participants from African, Bangladeshi, Caribbean, and Pakistani ethnicity over five weeks during March and April 2021.
Attitudes to the COVID-19 vaccine are incredibly personal, so we cannot make broad conclusions about the views of whole communities. However, understanding the reasons behind mistrust and low confidence in our healthcare system is a step towards addressing health inequalities moving forward.
Our research uncovered five ways to increase public confidence:
- Individual agency: Give people the ability to decide about the vaccine by providing them with all the information.
- Independence: People are more likely to trust organisations and people, like doctors, scientists and the NHS, when they act independently from the Government.
- Transparency: Transparency and trust go hand in hand. It’s essential to make all information about the vaccine public and accessible.
- Experience: The public trust and rely more on the experiences of frontline healthcare workers, local doctors and everyday people.
- Targeted messaging can miss the mark: Black and Asian people felt singled out and forced into a decision through targeted campaigns. Reaching out to these communities and engaging locally and directly was more effective.