Working with community groups to understand and increase COVID-19 vaccine uptake among ethnic minority groups in the UK

Working with community groups to understand and increase COVID-19 vaccine uptake among ethnic minority groups in the UK

The development and testing of vaccines against the SARS-CoV-2 virus within the space of a year is a scientific and human success story that we can all take pride in. The UK vaccination program is widely viewed as a great success. But delve a little deeper and a less reassuring picture emerges of vaccination rates being lower, sometimes much lower, among some ethnic minority groups compared to the general population. 

 The University of Aberdeen is leading a project called 'Collaboration for change: Promoting vaccine uptake’ that aims to understand why some ethnic minority groups are less likely to accept the offer of a vaccination and to see what strategies may be effective in providing the reassurance needed to increase uptake.

Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), as part of UK Research and Innovation’s rapid response to COVID-19, the project is a collaboration with community organisations that work with ethnic minority communities. Our work will draw on the global literature on attitudes to COVID-19 and other similar vaccines among ethnic minority groups and combine this with the lived-experience of our community partners to develop recommendations for improving the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine to ethnic minority groups.  

The project has three workpackages:

  1. Bring together ethnic minority community organisations involved in promoting public health and committed to understanding and improving vaccine uptake.
  2. In collaboration with these groups, conduct two rapid systematic reviews of a) evidence on the uptake of COVID-19 and other vaccines among ethnic minority groups and b) strategies to enhance uptake.
  3. Use these results as the basis of a co-produced, evidence-based report containing recommendations regarding COVID-19 vaccine roll-out to ethnic minority groups, together with a co-developed agenda for future research priorities to tackle vaccine hesitancy.

The project is led by Professor Shaun Treweek in the Health Services Research Unit (HSRU): “Vaccine hesitancy is a well-known global phenomenon, but currently it’s a time-critical issue for people at risk of serious illness from COVID-19 who will remain less protected than they could be if they do not feel comfortable accepting the vaccine. The best way to reduce this hesitancy is to work collaboratively with people who best understand these communities.”  The Knowledge Synthesis Team at HSRU, led by Dr Miriam Brazzelli, will support the design, conduct and interpretation of the rapid reviews and also involves Dr Moira Cruickshank, Dr Mari Inamura, Paul Manson and Clare Robertson.

The full project team comprises nine ethnic minority community organisations, two consultancies that are working to improve diversity in health research and a linguistic expert from University College London (see Table 1). All are well-placed to better understand why there is greater hesitancy among some ethnic groups and how to best provide the reassurance required for more people to accept the offer of a COVID-19 vaccination.

Table 1  The project partners. 


University of Aberdeen (


Egality Health (


COUCH Health (


University College London (


Caribbean and African Health Network (Manchester;


Ethnic Health Forum (Manchester;


Social Action for Health (East London;


South Asian Health Action (Leicester;


Manchester BME Network (Manchester;


Rotherham Ethnic Communities Network (Yorkshire;


Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality (Ipswich and Suffolk;


Reach Health (Glasgow;


Kanlungan (London;

The project started on 17th May 2021 and will run for four months.

More information is available at