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Anti-Vaccine Attitudes and Risk Factors for Not Agreeing to Vaccination Against COVID-19 Amongst 32,361 UK Adults: Implications for Public Health Communications

21 Pages Posted: 23 Oct 2020

See all articles by Elise Paul

Elise Paul

University College London - Department of Behavioural Science and Health

Andrew Steptoe

University College London - Research Department of Behavioural Science and Health

Daisy Fancourt

University College London - Department of Behavioural Science and Health

More...

Abstract

Background: Negative attitudes towards vaccines and an uncertainty or unwillingness to receive vaccinations are major barriers to managing the COVID-19 pandemic in the long-term. We estimate predictors of four domains of negative attitudes towards vaccines and identify groups most at risk of uncertainty and unwillingness to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in a large sample of UK adults.

Methods: Data were from 32,361 adults in the UCL COVID-19 Social Study. Ordinary least squares regression analyses examined the impact of socio-demographic and COVID-19 related factors on four types of negative vaccine attitudes: mistrust of vaccine benefit, worries about unforeseen effects, concerns about commercial profiteering, and preference for natural immunity. Multinomial logistic regression examined the impact of socio-demographic and COVID-19 related factors, negative vaccine attitudes, and prior vaccine behaviour on uncertainty and unwillingness to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

Findings: 16% of respondents displayed high levels of mistrust or misinformation about vaccines across one or more domains. Distrustful attitudes towards vaccination were higher amongst individuals from ethnic minority backgrounds, with lower levels of education, lower annual income, poor knowledge of COVID-19, and poor compliance with government COVID-19 guidelines. Overall, 14% of respondents reported unwillingness to receive a vaccine for COVID-19, whilst 22% were unsure. The largest predictors of both COVID-19 vaccine uncertainty and refusal were low income (< £30,000 a year), having not received a flu vaccine last year, poor adherence to COVID-19 government guidelines, female gender, and living with children. Amongst vaccine attitudes, intermediate to high levels of vaccine benefit mistrust and concerns about future unforeseen side effects were the most important determinants of both uncertainty and unwillingness to vaccinate against COVID-19.

Interpretation: Negative attitudes towards vaccines are major public health concerns in the UK. General mistrust in vaccines and concerns about future side effects in particular will be barriers to achieving population immunity to COVID-19 through vaccination. Public health messaging should be tailored to address these concerns.

Funding: The Nuffield Foundation [WEL/FR-000022583], the MARCH Mental Health Network funded by the Cross-Disciplinary Mental Health Network Plus initiative supported by UK Research and Innovation [ES/S002588/1], and the Wellcome Trust [221400/Z/20/Z and 205407/Z/16/Z].

Declaration of Interests: All authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Ethics Approval Statement: Ethical approval for the COVID-19 Social Study was granted by the UCL Ethics Committee. All participants provided fully informed consent and the study is GDPR compliant.

Keywords: COVID-19 vaccine, attitudes towards vaccines, vaccine refusal, public health

Suggested Citation

Paul, Elise and Steptoe, Andrew and Fancourt, Daisy, Anti-Vaccine Attitudes and Risk Factors for Not Agreeing to Vaccination Against COVID-19 Amongst 32,361 UK Adults: Implications for Public Health Communications. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3716874 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3716874

Elise Paul

University College London - Department of Behavioural Science and Health

London
United Kingdom

Andrew Steptoe

University College London - Research Department of Behavioural Science and Health ( email )

1-19 Torrington Place
London, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom

Daisy Fancourt (Contact Author)

University College London - Department of Behavioural Science and Health ( email )

London
United Kingdom

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