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Journal Article

Predictors of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in the UK Household Longitudinal Study


Publication date

02 Jan 2021


Background: Vaccination is crucial to address the COVID-19 pandemic but vaccine hesitancy could undermine control efforts. We aimed to investigate the prevalence of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in the UK population, identify which population subgroups are more likely to be vaccine hesitant, and report stated reasons for vaccine hesitancy.
Methods: Nationally representative survey data from 12,035 participants were collected from 24th November to 1st December 2020 for wave 6 of the ‘Understanding Society’ COVID-19 web survey. Participants were asked how likely or unlikely they would be to have a vaccine if offered and their main reason for hesitancy. Cross-sectional analysis assessed prevalence of vaccine hesitancy and logistic regression models conducted.
Findings: Overall intention to be vaccinated was high (82% likely/very likely). Vaccine hesitancy was higher in women (21.0% vs 14.7%), younger age groups (26.5% in 16-24 year olds vs 4.5% in 75+) and less educated (18.6% no qualifications vs 13.2% degree qualified). Vaccine hesitancy was particularly high in Black (71.8%), Pakistani/Bangladeshi (42.3%), Mixed (32.4%) and non-UK/Irish White (26.4%) ethnic groups. Fully adjusted models showed gender, education and ethnicity were independently associated with vaccine hesitancy. Odds ratios for vaccine hesitancy were 12.96 (95% CI:7.34, 22.89) in the Black/Black British and 2.31 (95% CI:1.55, 3.44) in Pakistani/Bangladeshi ethnic groups (compared to White British/Irish ethnicity) and 3.24 (95%CI:1.93, 5.45) for people with no qualifications compared to degree educated. The main reason for hesitancy was fears over unknown future effects.
Interpretation: Older people at greatest COVID-19 mortality risk expressed the greatest willingness to be vaccinated but Black and Pakistani/Bangladeshi ethnic groups had greater vaccine hesitancy. Vaccine programmes should prioritise measures to improve uptake in specific minority ethnic groups.

Published in




Psychology, Medicine, Demography, Ethnic Groups, Health, and Covid 19


Open Access; The copyright holder for this preprint is the author/funder, who has granted medRxiv a license to display the preprint in perpetuity. It is made available under a CC-BY 4.0 International license.; Is used in: Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) (2021) 'Factors influencing COVID-19 vaccine uptake among minority ethnic groups'. London: Government Office for Science.

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