The uptake gap in Covid vaccines between people in black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities and white individuals has been revealed.
Uptake in black, Asian, mixed and other groups was 71.5% between 8 December and 14 February, compared to 85.6% in the white ethnic group.
A Public Health Wales (PHW) inquiry also found a gap between those living in the most and least deprived areas.
It said the trends of “emerging inequalities” mirror those in the UK.
PHW looked at data from the Welsh Immunisation System to assess inequalities in coverage of Covid-19 vaccination by sex, socioeconomic deprivation and ethnic group.
Its publication comes after calls for such data to be made public in what Race Council Cymru chairman Ray Singh described as “a race against time”.
In addition to the 14 percentage point difference in uptake between different ethnic communities, the uptake gap between the most and least deprived areas is between 4.4% and 5.7%, depending on the age group.
“As Wales continues its journey to roll out the national Covid-19 vaccination programme, we can see from this report that vaccination uptake is currently lower in groups who are at increased risk of severe Covid-19 outcomes,” said Dr Richard Roberts, PHW’s head of the vaccine preventable diseases programme.
“The safety of Covid-19 vaccines is being confirmed by the experience of millions of people vaccinated in the UK so far, and it is important for all communities in Wales to be fully informed about the benefits of vaccination.”
Dr Roberts said he wanted to make sure eligible people with concerns are aware they can still get the vaccine now or at a later date.
‘It is really serious’
Ray Singh, chairman of Race Council Cymru, said: “This is what I suspected. It does not make good reading. Potentially, it is really serious.
“There are a number of reasons why the people in BAME groups are reluctant to take the vaccine.
“Social media has not helped. Also, older generations are still attached to their homeland and the myth that it has got human tissue and alcohol, especially Muslim communities from Bangladesh and Pakistan.
“We have tried to allay these fears, especially with older people who think ‘we have lived a full life, we don’t have to worry’.
“The tragedy of it is that if they could be spoken to so they understand this, they clearly love their families and by not having this they are not helping them at all.
“If they contract this virus, they can pass it on to other people, especially people living in overcrowded accommodation.”
PHW will continue to monitor and report on uptake rates with the aim of reducing inequalities, added Dr Simon Cottrell, senior principal epidemiologist at PHW.