UK winning battle against Covid vaccine hesitancy

At least four in five vaccine sceptics, including those from minority ethnic groups, have changed their minds, study finds

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The UK is winning its battle against Covid vaccine hesitancy, according to findings from the UCL Virus Watch study.

Results show that more than four in five people who in December 2020 were reluctant to be inoculated, or were intending not to be, had changed their minds by mid-February.

The shift is consistent across all of the ethnic and socio-economic groups surveyed.

Of those from black backgrounds, 88 per cent had changed their minds. The figure was 90 per cent in people from south Asian backgrounds.

The results deviate from previous studies that found vaccine hesitancy was highest among minority ethnic people.

Not all vaccine intention disparities have reduced, however, with stark differences across the age groups.

The study found that 25 to 35 year olds were almost nine times more likely to refuse a vaccine as against people aged 75 and older.

The nexus between ethnicity and vaccine intention hadn't disappeared completely, with researchers finding that vaccine and illness related psychological factors inhibited the uptake.

External factors also made an impact, with structural barriers including access to health care contributing to hesitancy.

UCL Virus Watch researchers were uncertain why there was such a wide-scale U-turn on the vaccine but quoted NHS efforts, public health campaigns and the simple fact that lots of people have been vaccinated safely as possible reasons.

The study is yet to be peer reviewed and its authors said the sample was not fully representative of the national population.

Its findings also predate AstraZeneca blood-clotting furore, which is feared to have increased vaccine scepticism.