Quarter of adults unwilling to have Covid-19 vaccine

27th July 2020

Almost a quarter of adults are unwilling to have a future Covid-19 vaccine, according to a new study carried out by Sheffield Hallam University.

Researchers from the University’s Centre for Behavioural Science and Applied Psychology surveyed 2,152 people between April and June.

Of those surveyed, 23 per cent (498) said they would be unwilling to receive a future vaccine, with one in five people at increased risk of severe Covid-19 also reluctant.

Researchers found a significant difference in unwillingness based on ethnicity. Almost 80 per cent of white participants were willing to receive a vaccine compared to just 56 per cent of people from BAME groups who were surveyed.

However, they found no differences in willingness among adults at high-risk of Covid-19, or among those who have a member of their household at increased risk.

The study involved a UK-wide cross-sectional survey which examined willingness to receive a Covid-19 vaccine in the general population and evaluated socio-demographic and clinical factors associated with willingness.

There are currently more than 100 vaccines being developed and tested worldwide, with two in phase three development.

There are key disparities in the risk and outcomes from Covid-19 by socio-demographic factors, including age, sex, level of deprivation, and ethnicity.

The least affluent areas of the UK have double the death rate of affluent ones (55.1 coronavirus-related deaths per 100,000 people, compared to the least deprived areas where the rate was 25.3 per 100,000).

People from BAME communities in England and Wales are also twice as likely to die from coronavirus as white people, even accounting for differences in class and underlying health.

A Covid-19 vaccination programme could inadvertently exacerbate these inequalities if it is not readily received by different population groups.

Dr Rachael Thorneloe, senior research fellow and lead author of the study, said:

“The reasons why people may be reluctant to have a vaccine are complex and varied, and likely to vary among different groups of people.

“Previous research in other communicable diseases, such as influenza, have highlighted the importance of people’s beliefs about the perceived need for the vaccination and concerns about the potential for short-term or long-term adverse effects.

“Perceptions about the perceived risk of the disease and whether they believe that vaccinations will help to reduce that risk have also been shown to be associated with influenza vaccination uptake.

“Other barriers that are likely to be associated with willingness, especially among underserved populations, also include poor access to healthcare services; marginalisation; fear and distrust; culturally derived beliefs and attitudes; poor health literacy; language barriers; and cost.”

Professor Madelynne Arden, Director of the Centre for Behavioural Science and Applied Psychology and principal investigator, said:

“Low levels of uptake will seriously limit the effectiveness of a future Covid-19 vaccination programme. Research is urgently needed now to enable the design and testing of appropriate interventions to support informed treatment decision-making and to make vaccinations accessible to all.”

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