According to a new nationwide survey, as many as 40% of the UK population have been put off taking the COVID-19 vaccine due to what they have read in the media. This figure rises substantially to 62% when considering 16 to 34 year olds, specifically; this is in comparison to 22% in the 55+ age range. The survey studied the attitudes of a thousand Brits and was commissioned by Eskenzi PR, a Queen’s award-winning Tech PR agency and conducted by Censuswide.
Yet, despite the scepticism, only 7% have confirmed that they will not take the vaccine as a result. Other sceptics concede that they will nevertheless take the vaccine, with 26% citing that it would be selfish not to do so (10%) or because they recognise it is for the greater good (16%). The remaining 8% of cynics will take the vaccine, though begrudgingly.
Remarkably, differences in attitudes are particularly stark between the younger and older generation as well as between Greater London and other regions. Indeed, those in older age groups were less likely to be swayed by the media, with 71% assuring that the media did not put them off the vaccine as opposed to 27% of those aged 16 to 24. Moreover, Greater London leads with the highest proportion of individuals who are put off taking the vaccine at 61%. This is followed only by Wales with 46%, while East of England had the lowest proportion at 29%.
These results come at a time, where demand for news is skyrocketing. In fact, this survey has also found that, since the beginning of the pandemic, 60% of respondents have admitted to reading more news. More precisely, nearly a quarter (24%) are reading the news to find out more about Covid-19 and the vaccine. In this way, they are opening themselves up to a bombardment of information, some of which may be misleading.
“The media has always played a pivotal role in swaying and forming people’s opinions. Since the pandemic, people have never been more hungry for information. With people digesting so much more news, not only through conventional media but also through unconventional means including social media, there’s going to be an element of misinformation creeping in. It comes as no surprise that they are becoming confused and cynical about having the vaccine when there are so many mixed messages.” says Yvonne Eskenzi, co-founder and director of Eskenzi PR. “It’s very important to keep a clear head and get a balanced viewpoint on everything in life, but especially now with something as important as whether you should take the vaccine. Still, it was good to see that even though many people didn’t really want it, they did it for the greater good of society.”