Objectives: To examine public views on COVID-19 vaccination and consider the implications for communications and targeted support.

Design: Cross-sectional study. Setting: Online and telephone nationally representative survey in Great Britain, January to February 2021.

Participants: 4978 adults. Survey response rate was 84%, among the 5931 panellists invited. Main outcome measures: Sociodemographic characteristics (age, gender, ethnicity, education, financial status), COVID-19 status, vaccine acceptance, trust in COVID-19 vaccination information sources, perceptions of vaccination priority groups and perceptions of importance of second dose.

Results: COVID-19 vaccine acceptance (83%) was associated with increasing age, higher level of education and having been invited for vaccination. Acceptance decreased with unconfirmed past COVID-19, greater financial hardship and non-white British ethnicity; black/black British participants had lowest acceptance. Overall, healthcare and scientific sources of information were most trusted. Compared with white British participants, other ethnicities had lower trust in healthcare and scientific sources. Those with lower educational attainment or financial hardship had lower trust in healthcare and scientific sources. Those with no qualifications had higher trust in media and family/friends. While trust was low overall in community or faith leaders, it was higher among those with Asian/Asian British and black/black British ethnicity compared with white British participants. Views of vaccine prioritisation were mostly consistent with UK official policy but there was support for prioritising additional groups. There was high support for having the second vaccine dose.

Conclusions: Targeted engagement is needed to address COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in non-white British ethnic groups, in younger adults, and among those with lower education, greater financial hardship and unconfirmed past infection. Healthcare professionals and scientific advisors should play a central role in communications and tailored messaging is needed for hesitant groups. Careful communication around vaccination prioritisation continues to be required.


This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to copy, redistribute, remix, transform and build upon this work for any purpose, provided the original work is properly cited, a link to the licence is given, and indication of whether changes were made. See: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

Cite as

Stead, M., Jessop, C., Angus, K., Bedford, H., Ussher, M., Ford, A., Eadie, D., MacGregor, A., Hunt, K. & MacKintosh, A. 2021, 'National survey of attitudes towards and intentions to vaccinate against COVID-19: implications for communications', BMJ Open, 11(10), article no: e055085. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2021-055085

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Last updated: 02 December 2022
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