Protecting others and record of vaccines main reasons to get Covid jab, poll shows

Preventing others from catching coronavirus and immunisation’s proven success against disease are the main reasons people see for taking the new vaccine, research has shown.

In a survey of 1,049 Britons, the top two reasons for having it – each cited by 77% – were to protect others from the virus and because vaccines have a long track record of working.

The desire to protect oneself from falling seriously ill with Covid-19 was given by 76%, the same number who cited their own reduction in risk of becoming infected.

Guardian graphic

However, asked by pollsters Ipsos Mori about arguments against taking the vaccine, many said the pandemic meant there had not been enough time to discover what the side-effects may be (61%) or to test if it really works (58%). Just over half (51%) are worried that there will not be enough doses available to inoculate everyone.

“Overall, pro-vaccine measures tend to be more convincing than reasons not to take it and, as we’ve seen in data on arguments for following the pandemic rules, appealing to people’s altruism and desire to protect others are key motivating factors,” said Gideon Skinner, a research director at Ipsos Mori.

“However, most people do need reassurance, especially over whether there has been enough time to properly test the vaccine, given the speed at which it’s been developed. This appears to be a bigger obstacle to gaining public confidence than scepticism towards vaccines in general or a belief that the impact of the coronavirus is being exaggerated,” he added.

Other key drivers for having the injections are a belief that it will be simple and easy to get it from GPs (67%) and “because I trust my own GP if they say I should take it” (66%). Family doctors will play a central role early in the rollout of whichever vaccines the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approves over the coming months. It is currently assessing the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs for emergency use to reduce hospitalisations and deaths.

Dr Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s deputy chief medical officer, has estimated that if a vaccine had already been rolled out to the 22 million people in the 10 groups deemed a priority to receive it, that would have saved 99% of the 58,245 people who have died in the UK from coronavirus since February.

Two-thirds (66%) of those questioned during 13-16 November said they would take the vaccine “because I trust scientists and other medical experts if they say I should take it”.

However, far fewer people trust the word of ministers or drug companies. Only 45% said they trusted pharmaceutical firms saying people should take it and even fewer – just 39% – said a motivation was “because I trust the government if they say I should take it”.

Recent news about the apparently high success rates seen in trials of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines has lifted the public mood. Almost one in two (46%) now think life will return to normal in a year, up 6% in a week. That belief is most prevalent among 18- to 34-year-olds (57%) but less common among 55- to 75-year-olds (40%).


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