COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in the UK: The Oxford coronavirus explanations, attitudes, and narratives survey (OCEANS) II

Daniel Freeman*, Bao S Loe, Andrew Chadwick, Cristian Vaccari, Felicity Waite, Laina Rosebrock, Lucy Jenner, Ariane Petit, Stephan Lewandowsky, Samantha Vanderslott, Stefania Innocenti, Michael Larkin, Alberto Giubilini, Ly-Mee Yu, Helen McShane, Andrew J Pollard, Sinéad Lambe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Abstract

Background: Our aim was to estimate provisional willingness to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, identify predictive socio-demographic factors, and, principally, determine potential causes in order to guide information provision.

Methods: A non-probability online survey was conducted (24th September-17th October 2020) with 5,114 UK adults, quota sampled to match the population for age, gender, ethnicity, income, and region. The Oxford COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy Scale assessed intent to take an approved vaccine. Structural equation modelling estimated explanatory factor relationships.

Results: 71.7% (n=3,667) were willing to be vaccinated, 16.6% (n=849) were very unsure, and 11.7% (n=598) were strongly hesitant. An excellent model fit (RMSEA=0.05/CFI=0.97/TLI=0.97), explaining 86% of variance in hesitancy, was provided by beliefs about the collective importance, efficacy, side-effects, and speed of development of a COVID-19 vaccine. A second model, with reasonable fit (RMSEA=0.03/CFI=0.93/TLI=0.92), explaining 32% of variance, highlighted two higher-order explanatory factors: ‘excessive mistrust’ (r=0.51), including conspiracy beliefs, negative views of doctors, and need for chaos, and ‘positive healthcare experiences’ (r=-0.48), including supportive doctor interactions and good NHS care. Hesitancy was associated with younger age, female gender, lower income, and ethnicity, but socio-demographic information explained little variance (9.8%). Hesitancy was associated with lower adherence to social distancing guidelines.
Conclusions: COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy is relatively evenly spread across the population. Willingness to take a vaccine is closely bound to recognition of the collective importance. Vaccine public information that highlights prosocial benefits may be especially effective. Factors such as conspiracy beliefs that foster mistrust and erode social cohesion will lower vaccine up-take.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalPsychological Medicine
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Dec 2020

Structured keywords

  • Cognitive Science
  • Memory
  • Covid19

Keywords

  • Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy
  • vaccine confidence
  • mistrust
  • conspiracy
  • Beliefs

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