These are the UK demographics most hesitant to take a coronavirus vaccine - according to new research

Tuesday, 9th March 2021, 3:18 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th March 2021, 3:19 pm
Low levels of vaccine hesitancy were reported in adults over 80 (Photo: Shutterstock)

A new survey from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed which UK demographics are most hesitant to take a coronavirus vaccine.

While discovering that positive opinions of the vaccine had shot from 78 per cent in mid-December 2020 to 94 per cent at the close of February 2021, the survey did find significant levels of hesitancy among particular groups.

Black adults were found to be the most hesitant ethnic group, with over four in 10 (44 per cent) reporting being hesitant about the vaccine.

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People from more deprived areas (measured in England only) were found to be more hesitant than those from more affluent areas, with around one in six adults (16 per cent) from the most deprived areas of England reporting hesitancy. This is over double the seven per cent feeling hesitant in the least deprived areas.

In terms of hesitancy among certain age groups, it was the 16 to 29 age group reporting the highest levels of concern. In this demographic, 17 per cent said they were hesitant about the vaccine, compared to a meagre one per cent among adults aged 80 and over.

Women in this younger age group were slightly more hesitant than men in this age group to take the vaccine. This gender gap narrowed with age.

Vaccine hesitancy among parents with a dependent child - 16 per cent - was also found to be double the 8 per cent reported in adults without dependent children.

1 in 20 adults feel negatively about a Covid vaccine

People were counted as "vaccine hesitant" if they either rejected the vaccine or reported being very or fairly unlikely to have it if offered. People who responded “neither likely nor unlikely”, “don’t know” or “prefer not to say” when asked if they'd take it were also counted as vaccine hesitant.

Overall, around 1 in 20 adults were found to have negative sentiments about the vaccine, meaning they refused the vaccine or reported being unlikely to have it if offered.

The most common reasons for having negative sentiments towards the vaccine were:

  • I am worried about the side effects (44%)
  • I am worried about the long-term effects on my health (43%)
  • I would wait to see how well the vaccine works (40%)
  • I do not think it will be safe (24%)

Tim Vizard, Public Policy Analysis, Office for National Statistics, said of the findings: "Over the past three months, we've seen people become increasingly positive about the Covid-19 vaccines, with over nine in ten adults saying they would have it if offered, or having already had it.

"Of those who are hesitant about receiving the vaccine, it’s younger and black adults who are most likely to say this, with concerns around side effects, long term effects and how well the vaccine works being the most common reasons."