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A more detailed look at some of the issues around vaccines and vaccinations.

As Vaccines are Rolled Out – We Ask What You Think

Just before the announcement that the UK’s Medicines Regulator had decided to licence the Pfizer BioNtech Covid 19 vaccine, we asked YouGov to poll 1,700 people about their attitudes to taking a Covid vaccine.

The results are not all bad for the Government, but it is clear that “vaccine hesitancy” remains a key issue to be overcome if the rollout of the Covid vaccines is to be a success.

First, the bad news. Fully 85% of those responding to our poll told YouGov that they had had either no information or not very much information about the possible side-effects of taking a Covid vaccine. To be fair, the information from the clinical trials had not all been made public at that stage, and this sort of detail is something usually found buried in data tables. But in this case, where the vaccines have been developed at warp speed due to unprecedented international co-operation – and a wall of money being thrown at this – this is not going to help persuade people that they should get their jabs.

We also asked whether people trusted the Government to be honest with them about the safety of a vaccine. 33% said they didn’t trust the Government very much or at all. However, 31% trusted them a little and 29% a lot, which doesn’t appear to be a bad result in light of the negative press that the Government is getting.

There is better news for the rollout of the vaccination programme. 48% of respondents said they were very likely to take a Covid vaccine and another 24% fairly likely. Only 10% said they would be very unlikely to do so. 18% of people also wanted to be in the first group of people to have the vaccine and 38% wanted to get vaccinated at the same time as others. 21% wanted to wait until after most people got their jabs or be in the final group. But 12% said they did not want to take the vaccine at all.

As it is thought that 65-75% inoculation rates might be necessary to suppress the virus, these suggest that public opinion is heading in the right direction to achieve this. But there is still some way to go.

We also asked about what or who they would trust to tell them about the safety of a vaccine. The NHS got the most positive responses, with 61% of respondents telling us that they would trust the NHS to advise them on this. 52% also said they would trust the people working on developing the vaccines. This again is perhaps higher than one might have expected given the prevalence of stories about how the pharmaceutical companies and those backing the efforts to produce vaccines might be using the crisis for ulterior motives.

The Government again comes of poorly, with just 18% trusting the Government to inform them about this issue.

Finally, we asked people if they had heard or seen anything on social media which would concern them about taking a vaccine. Only 13% of people responding said they had, so again, this is a positive for the Government given the widespread sense that social media is flooded with anti-vaccine messages and everybody is having their opinion swayed by this.

Overall, the reaction since the Pfizer BioNtech vaccine was licensed and started being administered seems to back up these findings. However, the Government still has work to do to persuade those in the “fairly unlikely” and the “not very much” category of respondents if it is going to achieve the level of inoculation needed. That is where the trust issue matters. If the Government works with the NHS and other advocacy groups on an open and transparent campaign which engages with people honestly about the risks as well as the benefits, it can only improve these figures.

Here at getyourjabs.com, we want to help and make as much information as possible available to people so they can make their own, informed choices about the Covid vaccine and all the others which are doing so much to improve our lives and rid the world of infectious disease.

There is a Times Podcast about the poll here: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/podcasts/stories-of-our-times


The search for a safe and effective Covid vaccine is the World’s no1 medical priority