More than four in 10 previously hesitant adults now vaccinated – ONS

More than four in 10 adults in England who were hesitant about getting a coronavirus vaccine have since been vaccinated, figures suggest.

Some 44% of people previously hesitant have since been jabbed, while 55% remained unvaccinated, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

It found that hesitancy was highest in younger people, but this group was more likely than hesitant older adults to have since taken up an offered vaccine.

Two thirds of those now vaccinated said they had been motivated by wanting restrictions to ease and life to return to normal.

Changes in vaccine hesitancy among adults in England
(PA Graphics)

More than half of those who remained unvaccinated said they were worried about potential side effects.

Before approval, the vaccines underwent a rigorous testing process to pass standards of safety, quality and effectiveness set by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Reports of serious side effects, such as allergic reactions, have been very rare, and no long-term complications have been reported, the NHS says.

For its Covid-19 Vaccine Opinions Study, the ONS followed up with 2,482 adults who had reported vaccine hesitancy when originally surveyed between January 13 and August 8.

These are people who had declined a vaccine (25%) or who said they were unlikely (33%) or unsure (42%) about getting a jab.

This period saw a decline in vaccine hesitancy, from 10% to 3% of all adults.

Uptake was highest among those who were unsure (60%) and lowest among those who had initially declined a jab (21%).

Some 46% of 18 to 29-year-olds had since been vaccinated, which the ONS said can partially be explained by a higher percentage being “undecided and open to change”.

There were lower rates of hesitancy in older people, but a smaller percentage (19%) of those aged 70 and over had since been vaccinated.

A smaller proportion of clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) adults who had displayed hesitancy were now vaccinated (16%) compared with non-CEV adults (42%).

Among CEV adults and adults aged 70 and over who had shown hesitancy, a large proportion had declined a vaccine (68% and 62% respectively).

Fewer vaccine-hesitant disabled people had since been vaccinated compared with non-disabled adults – 34% versus 46%.

The ONS said this suggests that disabled adults were more likely to have “deep rooted concerns”.

While there were higher rates of hesitancy among black adults compared with white adults, uptake in these groups was similar.

Overall, out of those who remained unvaccinated, 58% were worried about potential side effects, long-term effects of the vaccine (54%) and not thinking that the jab was safe (32%).

Some 55% said they thought the vaccine had been developed too quickly.