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Vaccine hesitancy has decreased among young people

by Jess Hacker
9 August 2021

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Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy has decreased among the youngest age groups since June, new data has shown.

Published today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the dataset revealed that vaccine hesitancy was marked at 11% among those aged 16 to 17 years between 23 June and 18 July, compared to 14% in the previous month’s bulletin.

Similarly, the rate decreased from 9% to 5% among 18- to 21-year-olds during the same period.

In June, the Covid-19 vaccine programme opened to everyone aged 18 and over.

The following month, those aged 12 to 15 years old at ‘increased risk of serious Covid-19 disease’ were also made eligible for the vaccine.

Last week (5 August), NHS England gave GPs the green light to begin vaccinating all 16- to 17-year-olds, after the JCVI recommended that they receive the vaccine.

The ONS noted that at the time of data collection, the rollout was aimed at those aged 18 and above, but that they also asked this younger group about their likelihood to accept a vaccine as ‘some 16- and 17-year-olds to have received, been offered, or declined a Covid-19 vaccine’.

Decreases in hesitancy in London and Wales

For the first time, the ONS also looked at levels of vaccine hesitancy in different areas of the UK.

It found that between 7 January and 28 March, London had a vaccine hesitancy rate of 11% which had dropped to 7% during 28 April to 18 July 2021.

During the same period, hesitancy in Wales dropped from 9% to 4%.

The ONS added: ‘In line with trends observed across Great Britain as a whole, young adults, those of black or black British ethnicity, the unemployed and those living in deprived areas are generally the most hesitant towards vaccines in all English regions, Scotland and Wales.’

The new dataset also found that black or black British adults had the highest rates of vaccine hesitancy (21%) compared with white adults (4%).

Meanwhile, adults living in the most deprived areas of England were more likely to report vaccine hesitancy (8%) than adults living in the least deprived areas (2%).

A study published in June found that the UK population was the ‘most trusting’ of Covid vaccines, with almost nine in 10 people (87%) saying they trust them.

However, as many as 75% of practice managers, practice nurses and GPs say they have suffered verbal abuse from patients during the vaccination campaign.