Government must confront continued uncertainty towards COVID-19 vaccine if we want a way out of lockdown

Government must confront continued uncertainty towards COVID-19 vaccine if we want a way out of lockdown


Effective public health communication is essential in order to protect the public during this second wave of COVID-19, particularly as many uncertainties lie ahead about the roll-out of vaccines. But have the government been successful in striking the right balance when it comes to upskilling the public’s knowledge and understanding about vaccines uptake?

At the time of writing, England is under lockdown and we are hearing increased warnings by scientists that if we want life to return to ‘normal’ the government must go beyond vaccinating at-risk and older age groups. But are the public listening?

Well the answer is – not everyone. Teaming up with Deltapoll, we asked a series of questions to determine potential factors influencing acceptance of a COVID-19 vaccine. We found that the government are failing to enhance trust in and acceptance of a vaccine – particularly amongst under 55s.

The poll reveals that:

  • One in four are unlikely to want to be vaccinated.
  • Age is the biggest driver in who would accept a vaccine.
  • 75% of those least likely to be wanting a vaccination are under 55.
  • Of those who are least likely to say they will take a vaccine, respondents were twice as likely to be Millennials as opposed to Baby Boomers.

On the 0 to 10 likelihood scale to have the COVID-19 vaccine, simply being an anti-vaxxer reduces the likelihood score by 2.5. Data published in March also suggested a generational divide – with fewer than half of Millennials washing their hands more regularly; compared to nearly 70% of Baby Boomers.

Health comms expert Roudie Shafie, Director, OVID Health said: “The Government’s immediate vaccine strategy is to protect some of the most vulnerable, but in order to come out of the cycle of lockdowns we will need to vaccinate anyone who can spread it. The under 55s are the most likely to be ‘spreading’ infections yet are the ones who need to be most persuaded to take a vaccine.  A renewed focus on vaccines confidence amongst this group is urgently required so that vaccination can be a path back to normal.”

Following this week’s announcement from Pfizer and BioNTech, it is now crucial for the authorities to be clear about what is known and not known, to engage the public in discussions, take their input seriously, and build trust through transparency.

To get our results, Deltapoll interviewed 1,589 British adults online between 22nd and 24th October 2020. The data have been weighted to be representative of the British adult population as a whole. Deltapoll and OVID Health are tracking all aspects of public opinion toward the COVID-19 outbreak and what it means for health communications.

Full tables are available to download from the Deltapoll website here.