Unvaccinated Britons aged 18-44 are 22 per cent more likely to accept a COVID-19 vaccine compared to October last year 4 months ago

By Michael Gibson and Johnny Heald

ORB polling showed almost 7 in 10 (69%) of the UK adult population have been invited to have a COVID-19 vaccine; of which 92% have had at least one dose (70% one dose, 22% fully vaccinated). In line with the phased roll out, 92 per cent of those aged 45+ and over have been invited to have a vaccine, compared to 38 per cent of those under 44.

For the purpose of comparison between April 2021 and October 2020 waves, the following data on vaccine hesitancy has been based on unvaccinated adults aged 18-44.

Almost two thirds (63%) of the unvaccinated population will definitely accept a vaccine, a 22 ppt increase from October 2020; and 21 per cent are unsure leaning towards yes. Women have seen one of the largest falls in hesitancy across the dataset, with just over 1 in 4 more likely to definitely accept a vaccine compared to the previous wave. Vaccine take-up is now consistent for men and women.  

 
There are also positive shifts in hesitancy amongst unvaccinated BAME populations in the UK. Over half (55%) are definitely willing to accept a COVID-19 vaccine compared to 37 per cent in October last year.

This positive increase has been driven mainly by Asian communities with 1 in 4 (24%) more likely to definitely accept a vaccine compared to last year. Increases in vaccine confidence (i.e. those definitely willing to accept a vaccine) have come about through converting those previously ‘unsure but leaning towards yes’.

Black communities however, whilst having seen marginal conversions into vaccine confidence continue to be the most hesitant group to be vaccinated – 1 in 3 (32%) will either refuse a vaccine outright or are unsure but leaning towards no.

Data also shows that 3 in 5 adults aged 18-44 are yet to receive an invitation to be inoculated. Among this population, in both age groups 25-34 and 35-44, 84 per cent say they would definitely or unsure but leaning towards having the vaccine. For those aged 18-24 it is 85 per cent. Vaccine confidence is up between 21 and 24 per cent for these age groups compared to October last year.

Respondents who have not yet been vaccinated and are unsure or would not accept the vaccine, cited concern over the safety of COVID-19 vaccines as their chief reason for being hesitant (47%). This is the same as October 2020, however then it was a much larger proportion – 77%. Other reasons included the approval/ development of vaccines being rushed (30%), and concerns over the effectiveness of the COVID-19 jab (29%). Generally these views were consistent across the hesitant populations.

In a bid to increase vaccine take up, the same group when asked what might convince them to accept a COVID-19 vaccine named having the ability to choose their vaccine (23%) as the number one reason. This is followed by advice from friends or family (14%), healthcare professionals (13%) and the NHS (12%).

Methods/ Technical note:

Fieldwork was carried out online among a UK nationally representative sample of 16,610 adults aged 18+ between 9 and 27 April 2021. Data is weighted to match the profile of the population.

For more information, contact mgibson@orb-international.com.

About ORB

ORB International is a small business operating in 115 countries around the world providing monitoring and evaluation, nationally representative surveys, rapid assessments and specialised research in complex environments. Utilising a data-centric and quality-first model, our primary focus is mixed-methods social and political research including the topics of counter-violent-extremism, governance, and working with vulnerable populations.

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