COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy in the UK: The Oxford Coronavirus Explanations, Attitudes, and Narratives Survey (OCEANS) II


BACKGROUND: Our aim was to estimate provisional willingness to receive a coronavirus 2019 (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.

Publication DOI:
Divisions: College of Health & Life Sciences > School of Psychology
Additional Information: Copyright © The Author(s) 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press. The final publication is available via Cambridge Journals Online at
Publication ISSN: 1469-8978
Last Modified: 16 Apr 2024 07:24
Date Deposited: 04 Jan 2021 13:27
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Related URLs: ... 8E351FDAAD5351A (Publisher URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2020-12-11
Published Online Date: 2020-12-11
Accepted Date: 2020-12-01
Authors: Freeman, Daniel
Loe, Bao S
Chadwick, Andrew
Vaccari, Cristian
Waite, Felicity
Rosebrock, Laina
Jenner, Lucy
Petit, Ariane
Lewandowsky, Stephan
Vanderslott, Samantha
Innocenti, Stefania
Larkin, Michael (ORCID Profile 0000-0003-3304-7000)
Giubilini, Alberto
Yu, Ly-Mee
McShane, Helen
Pollard, Andrew J
Lambe, Sinéad



Version: Accepted Version

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