5 groups of people less likely to want a COVID vaccine

·4-min read
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 28: Dr Jacqueline Marshall prepares a dose of AstraZeneca vaccine at a pop up vaccination unit in Kilburn on February 28, 2021 in London, England. The programme aims to encourage covid-19 vaccine uptake by ferrying patients to vaccination appointments, as well as taking supplies from hospitals to pop-up clinics. (Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images)
Some 9% of people are 'vaccine hesitant' towards the COVID jab, ONS research has found. (Hollie Adams/Getty Images)

The UK’s coronavirus vaccine rollout has been one of the most successful in the world.

As of Saturday, more than 22 million people had received their first dose.

Measured in terms of doses administered per 100 people, the UK has the third highest vaccination rate in the world, as demonstrated by this chart from Oxford University’s Our World in Data website.

(Our World in Data)
(Our World in Data)

On Monday, the Office for National Statistics’s (ONS) new report on vaccine hesitancy also found most people are happy to have a vaccine.

The study found 91% of adults in Great Britain were positive about the vaccine during the research dates between 13 January to 7 February.

However, the data suggest a significant portion of the population remain hesitant, with 9% of the 18,112 adults reporting this.

Watch: Matt Hancock on effectiveness of COVID vaccines (from 1 March)

The ONS defined hesitancy as adults who have refused a vaccine, who say they would be unlikely to get a vaccine when offered, or who responded “neither likely nor unlikely”, “don’t know” or “prefer not to say” when asked if they would get one.

Here is a breakdown of vaccine hesitancy figures by five different categories.

1. Age

Of all age groups, 16 to 29s – the youngest of all those surveyed – reported the highest vaccine hesitancy at 17%.

These people will be among the last to be offered a jab, with the government prioritising vaccines by older age.

It compares with only 1% of over-80s, who were among the first to be offered a dose, reporting vaccine hesitancy.


2. Ethnicity

Concerns about vaccine hesitancy among people from ethnic minority backgrounds have been well documented since the rollout began in December last year – and the ONS data highlights the extent to which this exists.

Black or Black British adults were most likely to be vaccine hesitant, with 44% reporting this. “Chinese or other” were second most likely at 18%.

White people, by comparison, are the least likely to be vaccine hesitant, at 8%.

In January, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) published a paper on factors influencing COVID vaccine uptake among ethnic minority groups.

Scientists made a number of recommendations to increase uptake, including tailored communication for different people and practical support to address the physical barriers to receiving a vaccine.


3. Parents

Parents of children under the age of four are significantly more likely to be hesitant about having a vaccine than those without dependent children, the figures suggest.

The survey found that 16% of adults with a child aged up to four are hesitant, compared to 8% of non-parents or people who don’t live with a dependent child.


4. Income

The ONS found that 14% of people who earn up to £10,000 a year, and 14% of people who earn between £15,000 and £20,000, are vaccine hesitant.

This compares with 5% of people earning between £40,000 and £50,000, and 5% of people who earn over £50,000.


5. Deprivation

The research found the likelihood of vaccine hesitancy is more than double among people who live in the "most deprived" areas of England (16%), compared to the "least deprived" (7%).

This was a concern raised by England's deputy chief medical officer Prof Jonathan Van-Tam last month as he said at a Downing Street press conference: "I know it’s been an issue for decades that it is always more difficult to get high uptake of vaccines and other preventative healthcare services in areas of unfortunately low prosperity, high deprivation of the UK.

“This is not a new problem but it is one that greatly concerns me because we need very high uptake.”


So what are the main reasons for not wanting a vaccine?

In the survey, 4% of respondents reported "negative sentiment" towards the vaccine.

The most common reasons were:

  • worried about side effects (44%)

  • worried about long-term health effects (43%)

  • wanting to wait and see how well the vaccine works (40%)

  • not thinking it will be safe (24%)

Watch: Do coronavirus vaccines affect fertility?