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Why are some people reluctant to take the COVID-19 vaccine?

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Published on 24 June 2021

Vaccine reluctant
Vaccine reluctant

Researchers from Teesside University and the University of Sunderland are conducting an important study to understand why some people are reluctant to take the COVID-19 vaccine.

The study will explore people’s attitudes towards taking the vaccine across the general population, and within Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities specifically.

Other recent studies have shown that despite an encouraging overall uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine across the UK, a significant number of individuals are reluctant or unwilling to take the vaccine, particularly within ethnic minority groups.

It is hoped that the learnings from the COVID-19 Vaccine Acceptance in the United Kingdom study will help the Government and public health authorities develop effective interventions and boost uptake of the jab. 

Dr Judith Eberhardt, a Senior Lecturer at Teesside University, and Professor Jonathan Ling from the University of Sunderland, are leading the project which has been funded by the National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network North East and North Cumbria.

Dr Eberhardt said: ‘A recent UK household survey showed that many of those who were hesitant had concerns about future unknown effects of the COVID-19 vaccine.

‘The results suggest that people of black ethnicities were more likely not to trust the vaccine, and people of Pakistani and Bangladeshi ethnicities had higher levels of concern about side effects, compared to white individuals.

‘With our research, we hope to gain an understanding of the psychological factors underlying such concerns.

‘We hope our findings will help inform public health campaigns designed to improve uptake of the vaccine, both in BAME communities, as well as in the wider population.’


Professor of Public Health at the University of Sunderland, Jonathan Ling, added: "This work is critical for understanding the concerns of groups where vaccine uptake has been poor. This is important not only for these communities, but for the population as a whole.

"While many people in our survey reported fears related to COVID-19 vaccines, getting vaccinated is the best way to protect ourselves, and our communities."

The final results of the study, and a report detailing key recommendations, will be published by the end of September.

People in the UK aged 18 years and older are invited to take part in the online survey, which takes five minutes to complete, at www.vaccineacceptance.com.