UMC Groningen to lead EU study to increase vaccination in communities of color
The University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) will lead an international study to increase the vaccination coverage among ethnic minorities and people of color. In the Netherlands, the focus is on Turkish and Moroccan girls, and the vaccination against HPV, the Human Papillomavirus that can cause cervical cancer.
3.3 million euros have been made available from the project from the EU Horizon 2020 program.
In a press release, the UMCG wrote that vaccination coverage among minorities and people of color in Europe is “unacceptably lower” compared to the general population. “For example, in the Netherlands, vaccination coverage for meningococci among Turkish and Moroccan adolescents is 30 percent lower than among other adolescents.”
Worse access to healthcare
The main reason for the lower vaccination coverage is the lack of access to good healthcare for minority communities. Research around increasing vaccination coverage has mainly focused on changing the beliefs and attitudes of target groups themselves. “Our research focuses on changing healthcare and how we can increase vaccination coverage with targeted interventions,” says UMCG researcher and project leader Daniëlle Jansen.
Turkish and Moroccan girls
The research project will last five years and focuses on five disadvantaged communities in four European countries: the Netherlands, Greece, Poland, and Slovakia. In the Netherlands, the research focuses on Turkish and Moroccan girls and the HPV vaccination.
Jansen says that “these are communities that are confronted with barriers to access to healthcare because it often does not respond sufficiently to their specific needs and context. Think of poverty, and different language, limited health skills, or social exclusion.”
Other vulnerable communities
In the project, the researchers also look at vulnerable communities with high vaccination coverage despite being perceived as disadvantaged, for example, the Somali community in Finland, the Arab community in Israel, and the Bengali community in the United Kingdom. Insights gained there will be converted into interventions for less vaccinated communities in the EU.