One in six (16%) people in the UK say they are unlikely to or definitely won’t have a vaccine against coronavirus, with “damaging” misperceptions influencing people’s intentions, research suggests.
King’s College London and Ipsos Mori found that a greater likelihood of refusing a potential vaccine is linked to beliefs, attitudes and values that reflect greater scepticism about science and authority, and less concern about the Covid-19 pandemic.
The study, based on 2,237 interviews with UK residents aged 16-75, found one in five (20%) would be fairly likely to have a coronavirus vaccine if one becomes available, while one in six (16%) said they are unlikely to have it or definitely will not. Of those questioned, 53% said they would be certain or very likely to get a vaccine against the virus.
Higher proportions of the following groups say it is doubtful they would get a vaccine, or say they definitely will not – those who believe face masks are bad for people’s health (37%); those who believe masks do not reduce the spread of Covid-19 (34%); those who think the Government only wants people to wear them as a way of controlling the public (34%).
There were also those who strongly agree too much fuss is being made about the pandemic (36%), those who say they do not find coronavirus stressful (27%), and those who say they are not worried about lifting lockdown restrictions (24%).
Other groups include those who say they are very much the kind of person for whom it is important to make their own decisions (24%), and who say they are not at all the kind of person who follows the rules at all times (24%), those who say they do not trust scientific experts more as a result of how they have helped during the crisis (33%), and those who believe the UK Government acted too slowly to control the spread of Covid-19 (27%).
There is also an age divide in the likelihood of getting vaccinated, with 16-24s (22%) and 25-34s (22%) twice as likely as 55-75s (11%) to say they are unlikely to do so or definitely will not.
Where people’s knowledge comes from is a factor too, with 27% of those who say they get a great deal of information on Covid-19 from WhatsApp saying they are unlikely to, or definitely will not, get a vaccine.
Professor Bobby Duffy, director of the Policy Institute at King’s College London, said: “Misperceptions about vaccines are among our most directly damaging beliefs, and they’re clearly influencing people’s intentions during the coronavirus crisis.
“While one in six in the UK say they are unlikely to, or definitely won’t, get a potential vaccine against Covid-19, this rises to around a third or more among certain groups, with a clear link to belief in conspiracy theories and mistrust of government, authority and science.
“Vaccines are one of our greatest achievements, and there is a great deal of faith that we’ll eventually develop one for Covid-19 – but more still need to be convinced of how important it could be for ending this crisis.”