More than three-quarters of people (76%) say they will agree to be vaccinated against Covid-19 when their turn comes, as long as they have been advised to do so by a GP or other medical or health professional, research has suggested.
But the poll of 2,076 for the Royal Society of Public Health (RSPH) also found people from minority ethnic backgrounds and lower income groups both said they would be less likely to take the vaccine.
Although more than half (57%) of respondents from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds said they likely to accept a Covid-19 vaccine, this compared to 79% of those from white respondents. Confidence was lowest among respondents of Asian ethnicity, of whom 55% were likely to say yes.
The polling also revealed significantly more hesitancy among lower income groups, with just 70% of lowest earners likely to say yes to the jab, compared to 84% of highest earners.
This needed to ring alarm bells in government, given the death rates from Covid in the poorest areas have been more than double those in better off areas, said the RSPH.
A report from Sir Michael Marmot published in December also argued that social and economic inequalities have been made worse by the pandemic.
Other findings from the RSPGH survey included that:
- 14% of Londoners reported they were “very unlikely” to get the vaccine, the highest proportion in the UK. The region with the lowest proportion was the east Midlands, at just 3%.
- Men are more likely to get the jab than women (80% versus 73%).
Christina Marriott, chief executive of RSPH, said: “It is highly concerning that both those living in poorer areas and those from minority ethnic communities are less likely to want the vaccine. However it is not surprising.
“We have known for years that different communities have different levels of satisfaction in the NHS and more recently we have seen anti-vaccination messages have been specifically targeted at different groups, including different ethnic or religious communities.
“But these are exactly the groups which have suffered most through Covid. They continue to be most at risk of getting ill and most at risk of dying. So the government, the NHS and local public health must rapidly and proactively work with these communities. And their most effective ways of working will be with the local community groups.”
Separately, research by insurer Aviva in December concluded that half of workers felt more upbeat about their ability to return to working normally because of the arrival of the vaccines.
One-in-four respondents were not sure yet about how a vaccine would affect their work, while 25% said news of a vaccine did not provide them with optimism about returning to working as normal.
Sixty-one per cent of workers who had been working through November said a vaccine would make them feel safer at work, while 12% said they would still have concerns for their health, despite a vaccine.