Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 22 October 2020

CORONAVIRUS

One in five people in UK unlikely to take coronavirus vaccine

Study finds Britons’ mistrust of Covid vaccine includes fears of unforeseen side effects

One in five people in the UK say they would be unlikely to take a coronavirus vaccine. AP
One in five people in the UK say they would be unlikely to take a coronavirus vaccine. AP

One in five Britons say they are unlikely to get a coronavirus jab when one becomes available, a study has found.

It comes as researchers highlight “concerning” levels of mistrust and misinformation around vaccines, underlining the scale of the task the British government faces in convincing the majority of the population to vaccinate against Covid-19.

The University College London study found one fifth (22 per cent) of the 70,000 people polled said they would be “unlikely” to get the jab.

A further 10 per cent of respondents said they were “very unlikely” to take the vaccine.

Slightly less than half (49 per cent) of participants reported they would be “very likely” to get vaccinated.

Those who said they did not want the jab cited unforeseen side effects (53 per cent), yet-to-be discovered problems (30 per cent) and a belief that vaccines did not work (15 per cent) as reasons.

One in four respondents believed vaccines were used for profiteering, while 4 per cent said they were a “con” promoted by authorities for the financial benefit of pharmaceutical companies.

The study’s lead author, Dr Daisy Fancourt, warned the government faces a tough job ahead of trying to overcome negative public perceptions of vaccines.

She said: “Whilst the majority of people have said they are likely to get a Covid-19 vaccine once one is available, a worrying amount of respondents have said that not only will they not get the vaccine, but that they don’t believe vaccines work or worry about potential side-effects, concerns that lack any basis in fact.

“It is critical the government and public health bodies publicise the importance of getting a vaccination, and explain why it will be critical in fighting the virus and protecting society.”

The study also analysed how many people would be likely to get the flu jab amid a government campaign promoting the take-up of that vaccine.

Nearly 75 per cent of over-60s said they would be “very likely” to be vaccinated against the flu compared with 25 per cent of people aged between 18 and 29.

When over-60s were asked if they would take the Covid-19 jab, the percentage of those saying yes fell to 58 per cent.

Nuffield Foundation education head Cheryl Lloyd said the results showed the government clearly needed to build public trust in a coronavirus vaccine.

She said: “These findings reveal valuable insights into public concerns about vaccinations and highlight the importance of building public trust in the safety and efficacy of a Covid-19 vaccine, particularly at a time when there is a significant lack of confidence in the government response to the pandemic.

“Given people’s reasons for distrust of vaccines, transparency about the scientific evidence and the role of commercial providers is likely to be a key factor in gaining public trust, as is involving the public in the decision-making process.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously called opponents of vaccines “nuts”.

"There's all these anti-vaxxers now. They are nuts, they are nuts,” he told nurses in July.

The University of Oxford and AstraZeneca partnership is one of the world’s most scrutinised coronavirus vaccine trials, with early results showing the jab triggers an immune response in humans.

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Updated: September 24, 2020 04:15 PM

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