A team of researchers in the UK – namely, Ben Ansell (Oxford), Martin W. Bauer (LSE), Jane Gingrich (Oxford), and Jack Stilgoe (UCL) – recently conducted a two-wave survey on the hesitancy of individuals to receive coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination.
The first survey included 1642 responders and took place between September 30 to October 1, 2020. The second survey was conducted over the week commencing February 1, 2021, and had fewer respondents. During the second wave, the scientists reached out to the same group of respondents as the first wave. However, only 1219 responses were received, with a retention rate of 74%.
The study included participants who were 'likely' and 'very likely' to take the vaccine and also individuals who had already been vaccinated. The researchers categorized participant responses into different groups such as age, political factors, ethnicity, etc.
The researchers highlight some crucial points related to the mood of the British public toward COVID-19 vaccines. Some of the key observations in each category during wave one and wave two survey are discussed below:
The researchers reported that enthusiasm or keenness to take the COVID-19 vaccine has significantly increased since October 1, 2020. The ratio of participants who were 'very likely' to take the vaccine has increased from half to over three-quarters. This survey reported that the overall willingness to take the vaccine has increased from 78% to 87%.
One limitation of this survey is that it does not consider people in nursing homes and has fewer respondents belonging to the older age group (above 80 years). However, 13% of the candidates associated with this survey had received the vaccine in the first week of February.
Around 7% stated that they were ‘very unlikely' to take the vaccine. There was no shift in this percentage even after the second wave survey. Additionally, the majority of participants who were previously reluctant or 'didn’t know' if they will take the vaccine changed their mind, indicating that they were now 'very likely' to do so.
The second wave survey report suggested no strong gender difference regarding the keenness to take the vaccine. However, the first wave report indicated that women were substantially more reluctant to be vaccinated. Lower-income people were found to be less keen to take the vaccine. A weak correlation was found between education and willingness to take the vaccine. Participants whose education ended at 18yrs of age were reported to be the most willing group. In the first wave survey, vaccine hesitancy was more prevalent in ethnic minority communities, which gradually shifted by the second-wave survey.
Participants who did not vote in 2019 were found to be less likely to accept vaccines than people who voted, the study found. Researchers observed that vaccine acceptance was low among Brexit Party and Green Party supporters. Further, supporters of the Reform UK party were substantially less inclined to take the vaccine. Scotting National Party supporters who took part in this survey showed a strong willingness to take the vaccine.
Vaccine Policy Approval
This survey found a 69% approval of the speed with which the policymakers and regulators approved vaccines, 74% approval on the manner of rolling out vaccines, and 78% on the strategy that elderly and health workers should be vaccinated first. Only 41% approved the strategy of delaying the second dose of the vaccine.
Gender difference played no role in accepting policies concerning the vaccine or vaccination. The percentage of approval was higher among the elderly, and political factors also played a significant role. However, according to the study’s findings, ethnicity, education, and income had a minimal effect on the vaccine policy approval.