Vaccine hesitancy ‘three times more likely in most deprived parts of England’

Adults living in the most deprived areas of England are three times more likely to be hesitant about getting a coronavirus vaccine than those in the least deprived parts, figures suggest.

One in 10 people in the most deprived parts reported vaccine hesitancy between April 28 and May 23, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This compares with 3% of those in the least deprived areas.

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Overall, hesitancy levels in Britain are slightly down from the previous month, the survey of 15,173 adults aged 16 years and over found.

This was defined as adults who have refused a vaccine, say they would be unlikely to get a vaccine when offered, and those who responded “neither likely nor unlikely”, “don’t know” or “prefer not to say” when asked.

Some 94% of adults in Britain reported positive sentiment, while 6% reported hesitancy, compared with 93% and 7% respectively between March 31 and April 25.

One in eight (13%) of those aged 16-29 reported hesitancy – the highest proportion of all the age groups and unchanged from the previous month.

Black or black British adults were the ethnic group reporting the highest level of vaccine hesitancy, at 21%.

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Around one in 10 adults identifying Muslim (11%) or Other (11%) as their religion reported vaccine hesitancy, compared to 5% of those who identified as Christian or as Hindu (2%).

Of those who reported negative vaccine sentiment – adults who said they have declined a jab or are unlikely to get one – 59% had health-related concerns, and 56% had general hesitation about the vaccine and its safety.

And almost a quarter (23%) said they had fertility concerns and 11% cited travel or “other” reasons.

The vaccines approved in the UK have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness set by the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Reports of serious side-effects have been “very rare” and there is no evidence that the vaccine has any effect on chances of becoming pregnant, the NHS says.

More than a third (35%) of those who reported negative sentiment said they did not think the jab was needed now or in the future.

Adults who reported negative sentiment in England’s least deprived areas were more than three times more likely to say coronavirus was not a personal risk – 27% believed this compared to 8% of those in the most deprived parts.

Separate research published earlier this week showed the confidence in the jab in men and women under 45 has risen by 17% and 27% respectively in England.

NHS England said there has been an increase of more than a fifth among adults under 45 who would definitely get their vaccine, according to the survey of 16,610 people.

The analysis, by ORB International and the Vaccine Confidence Project, found 63% would definitely get the jab, with a further 21% likely to accept.

Vaccine uptake more than tripled among black British and Asian communities between February and April, and the Vaccine Confidence Project’s data suggests this trend will continue for younger age groups with 6% and 24% increases respectively in those who intend to get the jab.