Arguments against taking the COVID-19 vaccine have lost ground, but many are concerned about its ability to fight new variants

New polling by Ipsos shows that arguments against taking a COVID-19 vaccine have lost ground since last November, although some theories are proving harder to dispel.

The author(s)

  • Anna Quigley Public Affairs
  • Gideon Skinner Head of Political Research
  • Cameron Garrett Public Affairs
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Before the vaccine roll-out began late last year, the majority of Britons were convinced by the argument that there had not been enough time to see the side-effects of the vaccine – now just two in five (41%) think the same, down 20ppt.  

Just six months ago, around half thought there had not been enough time to test whether the vaccine really works – now just a third (35%) think that is a persuasive reason to not get vaccinated (down 23ppt). Similarly, only three in ten (31%) are convinced by the argument that vaccine doses will be limited, and others will need them more, 20ppt fewer than last November.

How convincing are arguments against taking the COVID-19 vaccine?This said, whilst believed by only a minority, some arguments against taking the vaccine are proving harder to dispel. Around one in five (19%) still argue that vaccines can cause autism, up from 15% since November. A similar proportion say the vaccine is too expensive (20%) despite it being free, and that previous flu vaccines they have had in the past have not worked (24%). One in four (24%) think COVID-19 is unlikely to make people seriously unwell. All these arguments are relatively unchanged compared to six months ago.

Britons yet to be vaccinated are more susceptible towards arguments against getting jabbed. Around two in five (63%) of the unvaccinated are convinced by arguments which say there hasn’t been enough time to see what the side-effects of the vaccine might be. This compares to a third of those who had at least one dose (33%). 

Similarly, around half of people unvaccinated are convinced by arguments against taking it such as there has not been enough time to test whether it works (52%), doses of the vaccine will be limited and others will need it more (50%) or they don’t trust the Government telling them to take it (49%).

Meanwhile, the majority of Britons are now convinced by all the arguments tested in favour of taking the vaccine. Among the most convincing is that a vaccine will reduce the risk of people becoming seriously ill if they do catch COVID-19 (83%), along with the belief that getting vaccinated will protect others from catching the virus (83%).

How convincing are arguments for following taking the COVID-19 vaccine?

In fact, overall, confidence in the vaccine remains high, as results from our latest KnowledgePanel survey show. However, there are concerns about its effectiveness against new variants of COVID-19; half (48%) say they are worried about this. Despite these concerns, the survey of over 8,000 adults in the UK shows that nine in ten people (91%) say it is important to get the vaccine to stop the spread of new variants.

In general, concerns about the effectiveness of the vaccine against new variants do not seem to be diminishing intentions to have it; 94% of people say they have already had the vaccine or will have it. However, worries about its effectiveness are higher amongst groups with lower existing levels of confidence in the vaccine. For example, concern is highest amongst young people aged 16-24 and people from an ethnic minority (both 60%).

Anna Quigley, Research Director at Ipsos, said of the findings:

While results from both our Omnibus and UK KnowledgePanel surveys show high levels of confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine, there is still a need to engage with those that remain worried and doubtful. Some arguments against the vaccine are holding strong, while there are worries about how effective it will be against new variants, highlighting the need for more conversation in these areas.

Technical note

  • Ipsos interviewed a sample of 1,006 adults aged 16-75 in Great Britain using its Ipsos Digital online omnibus between 21st and 23rd May 2021. Data has been weighted to the known offline population proportions for age, working status and social grade within gender, government office region and education. All polls are subject to a wide range of potential sources of error. For more information please contact the team at https://www.ipsosomnibussurveys.com/.
  • This data has been collected by Ipsos’s UK KnowledgePanel, a random probability panel which provides gold standard insights into the UK population, by providing bigger samples sizes via the most rigorous research methods. Ipsos interviewed a representative sample of 8,121 people over 16 in the UK. Interviews were conducted online from 27 May to 2 June 2021. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population. All polls are subject to a wide range of potential sources of error.
     

 

The author(s)

  • Anna Quigley Public Affairs
  • Gideon Skinner Head of Political Research
  • Cameron Garrett Public Affairs

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