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Coronavirus conspiracy suspicions, general vaccine attitudes, trust, and coronavirus information source as predictors of vaccine hesitancy among UK residents during the COVID-19 pandemic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychological Medicine
Published12 Apr 2021

King's Authors


Vaccine hesitancy presents an obstacle to the campaign to control COVID-19. It has previously been found to be associated with youth, female gender, low income, low education, low medical trust, minority ethnic group membership, low perceived risk from COVID-19, use of certain social media platforms, and conspiracy beliefs. However, it is unclear which of these predictors might explain variance associated with others.

An online survey was conducted with a representative sample of 4343 UK residents, aged 18 to 75, between 21 Nov and 21 Dec 2020. Predictors of vaccine hesitancy were assessed using linear rank-order models.

Coronavirus vaccine hesitancy is associated with youth, female gender, low income, low education, high informational reliance on social media, low informational reliance on print and broadcast media, membership of other than white ethnic groups, low perceived risk from COVID-19, and low trust in scientists and medics, as well as (to a much lesser extent) low trust in government. Coronavirus conspiracy suspicions and general vaccine attitudes appear uniquely predictive, jointly explaining 35% of variance. Following controls for these variables, effects associated with trust, ethnicity, and social media reliance largely or completely disappear, while the effect associated with education is reversed.

Strengthening positive attitudes to vaccination and reducing conspiracy suspicions with regard to the coronavirus may have a positive effect on vaccine uptake, especially among ethnic groups with heightened vaccine hesitancy. However, vaccine hesitancy associated with age and gender does not appear to be explained by other predictor variables tested here.

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