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Publication Detail
Anti-vaccine attitudes and risk factors for not agreeing to vaccination against COVID-19 amongst 32,361 UK adults: Implications for public health communications


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 GBP 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].
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