Vaccine Hesitancy Varies More with Age than Ethnicity, ONS Finds

The debate on vaccine hesitancy has so far focused primarily on ethnicity, but new findings by the ONS suggest that variation by age is also significant. The new figures reveal that whilst a black person is roughly six times more likely to express vaccine hesitancy than a white person, someone aged 16 to 29 is 17 times more likely to be unsure than someone aged 80 or over. Here are the key findings on age:

In the first phase of the vaccine rollout in the UK, the Joint Committee of Vaccinations and Immunization (JCVI) advised on priority groups that included those aged 50 years and over. Our analysis of older age groups is consistent with this advice, with additional groups covering those aged 16 to 29 years and 30 to 49 years.

Among adults aged 16 to 29 years, 17% reported hesitancy towards the coronavirus vaccine, compared with 1% of adults aged 80 years and over. The same proportion of adults aged 70 to 74 years and those aged 75 to 79 years reported vaccine hesitancy (both 1%).

Here are the key findings on ethnicity:

Adults of ethnic minority backgrounds were more likely to report vaccine hesitancy when compared with White adults (8%). Among adults with ethnic minority backgrounds, Black or Black British adults were most likely to report vaccine hesitancy (44%).

The most common reasons for negative vaccine sentiment were reported as follows:

Similar reasons were reported for negative sentiment towards the vaccine. The most common reasons were:

I am worried about the side effects (44%)

I am worried about the long-term effects on my health (43%)

I would wait to see how well the vaccine works (40%)

I do not think it will be safe (24%)

These reasons remained consistent across all population groups, however there were some differences in the other reasons reported. 

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