UK Colour Blind Vaccination Strategy – The Royal Society Of Medicine

Vaccination policies driven by class and racism: 'The absence of ethnic minorities from the priority list for vaccinations is putting them at a significantly higher risk of COVID-19 illness and death.'
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“The UK’s colour-blind vaccination model disregards the unequal impact of the pandemic on minority ethnic groups.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has omitted ethnic minorities from the top priority groups which include older age, frontline health and social care workers, and care home staff and residents.

The invisibility of these vulnerable groups from the priority list and the worsening healthcare inequities and inequalities are putting ethnic minorities at a significantly higher risk of COVID-19 illness and death.

The UK currently has one of the highest death rates from COVID-19 globally. Black men and women are 4.2 and 4.3 times as likely to die from COVID-19 when compared to their White counterparts, respectively Similarly, Bangladeshi and Pakistani men and women are 3.6 and 3.4 times as likely to die from COVID-19, respectively.

The relationship between ethnicity and COVID-19 appear to be largely explained by the social determinants of health, including systemic racism and socio – economic differences, rather than genetics or biology.

People from minority ethnic groups are more likely to live in crowded and multi-generational households where self-isolation and social distancing may prove to be difficult, or even impossible, thereby increasing transmission risk.

Individuals living in deprived areas have higher diagnosis and death rates, with the mortality rate of those living in the most deprived areas being more than double that of those living in the least deprived areas of England.

Ethnic minorities comprise a higher proportion of the high-risk and low-paid essential workers in the working-age population, especially in urban areas, thereby increasing their risk of exposure to and acqui- sition of COVID-19.

 In London, 34% of the general working population consists of Black and Asian workers7; however, they represent 54%, 48% and 44% of food retail workers, health and social care workers, and transport workers, respectively.

 As individuals from these communities are more likely to not have the option of working from home, and may require regular public transport use, they are also exposed to a higher risk of infection by these routes. Furthermore, as these groups have far more social contacts than others, this exposure also puts their work-related contacts and wider households at an increased risk of infection and more severe out- comes.

Lockdown measures have disproportionately affected ethnic minorities that are already experien- cing inequalities; unemployment, financial insecuri- ties, housing evictions and mental health issues are experienced at higher levels in Black and Bangladeshi communities when compared to their White counterpart.


Mitigating the impact of COVID-19 could be achieved through targeted vaccination of all high- risk groups. The World Health Organization and The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine both recommend policy-makers allocate COVID-19 vaccines in a manner that prioritises ethnic minorities that are socioeconomically disadvantaged, preventing further exacerbations of exist- ing health inequalities.16,17 

Securing the greatest benefit across the population will require allocating vaccines to those who have a higher risk of transmis- sion, such as those living in multi-generational house- holds, thereby increasing direct and indirect benefits of the vaccine.

In addition to the health and economic impacts of COVID-19 dis- proportionately affecting ethnic minorities, these communities contribute inordinately to the high- risk key workers who provide critical services – frontline and other – that have allowed the nation to operate as normally as possible and to maintain societal structure during the pandemic.

Low COVID-19 vaccine uptake in ethnic minorities (relates to) lack of trust in some ethnic minority communities as a result of cultural and structural racism […] physical barriers including lack of vaccines, transport access and inconvenience of appointments can also hinder vaccine uptake.”

Read the full article here Royal Society Of Medicine

If the Labour Party were committed to anti-racism it would be demanding ethnic minorities are included in the priorty groups for vaccination. Kier Starmer, put your money where your mouth is.