New data highlights the inequalities in emergency hospital rates and vaccinations

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has highly encouraged eligible individuals from ethnic minority groups and deprived areas to book their influenza and COVID-19 vaccines.

A new UKHSA report has highlighted the inequalities in emergency hospital admission rates and the urgent need to improve vaccine coverage across ethnic groups and levels of deprivation.

Vaccinations are important to prevent flu and COVID-19, which can both be administered at the same time to patients, to ensure the highest level of protection.

New data outlined in the agency’s report, Inequalities in emergency hospital admission rates for influenza and COVID-19, from September 2022 to February 2023, revealed that COVID-19 and flu rates, as well as emergency hospital admission rates, were significantly higher in ethnic groups and those living in deprived areas.

On average, the Pakistani ethnic group had emergency hospital admission rates that were 2.7% higher than the white ethnic group.

Emergency hospital rates for flu in the black, African, Caribbean, or black British ethnic groups were 1.6% higher than the white ethnic group.

Furthermore, previous UKHSA vaccine uptake data has shown disparities in flu and COVID-19 vaccine coverage. During winter 2022 to 2023, 55% of Pakistani ethnic groups and 49% of black Caribbean ethnic groups received the flu vaccine, compared to 84% of the white British group.

Potential underlying causes for such health inequalities involve multiple factors, including the impact of existing social and economic inequalities, the coverage of healthcare interventions such as vaccination, and pre-existing health conditions.

Additionally, the report offers insight into local healthcare systems, including the Integrated Care Boards and directors of public health, to consider these findings at the local level.

Dr Mary Ramsay, director of immunisation, UKHSA, said: “Taking up both the flu and COVID-19 vaccines provides the best protection against the virus this winter.

“It’s important to get vaccinated before flu starts to circulate, so we strongly urge everyone who is eligible to come forward for vaccination as soon as possible.”