Half of all UK anti-vaxxers back in December have now had the Covid jab, study finds

A patient receives a dose of the AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccine at the Al-Abbas Islamic Centre in Birmingham (Image: AFP via Getty Images)

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Half of all people who were anti-vaxxers in December have now had their coronavirus vaccine in the UK, a study has found.

Some 52 per cent of those who said they would definitely not get a jab when asked in November and December 2020 have since changed their minds and been inoculated.

And 84 per cent of people who said they were not very or not at all likely to accept a vaccine when asked last year have since been jabbed, according to research by King's College London and the University of Bristol.

The study shows that vaccine hesitancy has decreased since the jab rollout began six months ago, researchers say.

Vaccine confidence has doubled in ethnic minorities, from 36 per cent saying they were certain or very likely to get jabbed in November/December to 72 per cent now.

Over-25s in England began being invited to book their first jab appointments this week
(Image: Getty Images)

And it has tripled among Muslims over the same period, from 23 per cent to 67 per cent.

Researchers surveyed 4,896 UK adults aged 18 to 75 between April 1 and 16 this year, and tracked 1,879 people surveyed last year to see if and why their views had changed.

They found that, overall, the public appear more likely to say they will get a Covid vaccine than they were last year.

But researchers also noticed a "hardening" of views, with nine per cent of unvaccinated respondents saying they definitely will not get a jab when offered, compared with 4 per cent of the public who said this in July 2020.

People queuing for their vaccines at Brighton's mass vaccination centre
(Image: David McHugh / Brighton Pictures)

Many who were previously sceptical now say they are very likely to or definitely will accept an offered vaccine, the research found.

One in seven people who in November and December 2020 said they definitely would not get a vaccine are now either certain they will get one or have already got one.

This is also the case for 45 per cent of those who said they were not at all likely to get vaccinated.

The research found that more people have encountered messages encouraging them not to get vaccinated – 43 per cent, up from 35 per cent in November/December.

Vaccine hesitancy has decreased, the researchers found
(Image: Getty Images)

Overall, 94 per cent of those surveyed who had been offered a vaccine have taken it up.

Dr Siobhan McAndrew, senior lecturer in quantitative social science at the University of Bristol, said: "The high rates accepting the invitation to take up a vaccine are extremely encouraging.

"Convergence over time in vaccine confidence among members of different ethnic and religious groups provides evidence of a strong pro-vaccine norm.

A woman receives an injection of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine at the Madejski Stadium in Reading
(Image: POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

"There is an apparently large difference in intention to get vaccinated between religious groups, with Muslims in particular standing out – but when we control for characteristics associated with religion, such as ethnicity, immigration status, social class and age, these differences are much reduced, suggesting that it's not religious belief in itself that's the driver.

"Nevertheless, the connections that the religiously-active have with religious peers, faith community leaders and with the NHS's diverse workforce serve as a valuable communications resource.

"Tailored messaging via these channels will address specific community needs, reassure the cautious, and support vaccine confidence."

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NHS England director of health inequalities Dr Bola Owolabi said: "This latest study backs up data we have consistently seen since we launched the NHS action plan to tackle vaccine hesitancy several months ago, with uptake among ethnic minorities more than tripling between February and April and confidence in the vaccine growing by more than a fifth among all adults under 45.

"As the NHS vaccination programme opens up to the last remaining age groups, NHS teams across the country continue to make the vaccine easily accessible for all by jabbing at the more than 1,600 sites around the country, including sports stadiums, museums, places of worship, buses and pop-up clinics, as well as at local GPs and pharmacies, to ensure it is easily accessible for all."

The latest government data shows that 70,253,625 vaccinations have been given in the UK so far.

Of these, 41,088,485 people have received a first dose and 29,165,140 had a second jab too.

At the moment, anyone who is aged 25 or over can book a coronavirus vaccine on the NHS website.

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