Work to increase uptake in Hackney's 'vaccine hesitant' communities

An older woman gets vaccinated.

Mrs Kamuben Patel, 91, from Hackney Central was one of the first people in Hackney to get a Covid-19 vaccination. - Credit: Hackney Council

Four vaccination centres are now open in Hackney, but the council continues to work closely with Black Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities which are, recent data suggests, less likely to take up the vaccine. 

Last week, three more vaccination sites opened across the borough, including one at the historical site, John Scott Health Centre as well as pharmacists in Mare Street and Clapton. The first site to open has operated in Bocking Street since January. 

But, data released by The Royal College of GPs on February 7 suggests people from BAME backgrounds are less likely to receive the vaccine.

Hackney Council says it is working closely with communities to increase uptake through reassurance about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. 

Dr Sandra Husbands, director of public health for the City and Hackney, said: "We know that in some areas across London people from BAME backgrounds are less likely to take up the vaccine, we are specifically communicating with Hackney’s diverse communities to give them the information they need to make an informed choice. "

Dr Sandra Husbands, Director of Public Health, City and Hackney

Dr Sandra Husbands, Director of Public Health, City and Hackney. - Credit: Hackney Council

GPs are calling for a high-profile national campaign supported by faith leaders and public figures to support efforts to increase Covid-19 vaccine uptake amongst groups disproportionately impacted by the virus. 

The Royal College of GPs conducted a vaccine survey and found that 94 per cent of doctors respondending saw a high uptake of the vaccine appointments being offered. However, they revealed concerns over analysis of NHS England's latest Covid figures which show 90pc of vaccine recipients are white. 

The analysis shows people of mixed ethnicity were just 33pc as likely to receive the vaccine as their white counterparts, followed by Asian (47pc) and Black recipients (64pc). 

The college raises concerns that many "vaccine hesitant" patients belong to communities worst hit by the virus. The disproportionate impact on BAME communities was reported by Public Health England last year. 

The Times reported this week that one of Hackney's vaccination sites, The John Scott centre in Woodberry Down, was even forced to reduce its opening hours due to a low uptake.

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Dr Husbands said: "One of our vaccination sites, John Scott Health Centre, closed early on a few days last week.

"We did this to prevent vaccine wastage.

"However, we have enough appointments available this week to offer a vaccine to all remaining unvaccinated patients who want them."

The council is taking steps to "urge" vaccine uptake, including community events led by Dr Husbands. 

Philip Glanville, mayor of Hackney, said: “While our vaccination uptake rates are in line with the rest of London, we’re doing all we can to work with our communities to reassure them about the safety of the vaccine and promote take up. 

“We know that some people are concerned about taking the vaccine, which is why we’re contacting all residents to explain how it’s safe and give them the opportunity to ask questions – including a dedicated curriculum toolkit for schools.

"We plan to do even more to communicate this message in the days, weeks and months ahead.”

A government report has previously listed reasons for the lower level of vaccine uptake including mistrust towards government and healthcare services, and ethical positions around medical interventions.

Covid vaccine vial.

A Covid vaccine vial used at a Hackney vaccination centre. - Credit: Hackney council

Dr Husbands added: “Thousands of people each week are able to get vaccinated here in Hackney. This is all very positive news.

"Hopefully, coronavirus will one day go the way of previously deadly viruses like Polio, Tetanus and Smallpox, which have all been beaten by vaccines and we no longer see these viruses killing or debilitating people in the UK."

Residents over 70 or those clinically vulnerable are now being contacted for vaccination by the NHS. Residents in this group can book an appointment at

Those who have received the vaccination are reminded to book their appointment for the second dose 10 weeks after they received the first, to ensure people have a  greater coverage of protection from the virus. 

Learn more about the vaccines via the council's website.