Study to understand hesitance in accepting vaccine

New research that aimed to understand why people were reluctant to receive the COVID-19 vaccine has found that more people would get vaccinated if they thought the virus posed a significant risk to them.

The research, led by Teesside University academic Dr Judith Eberhardt, alongside Fuse Associate Director Professor Jonathan Ling from the University of Sunderland, explores beliefs, motivations and intentions relating to the COVID-19 vaccine in the UK population. The new study is in the journal Vaccine, published by Elsevier.

Their findings showed some people say they would be more likely to have the vaccination if they believed COVID-19 posed more of a danger to them personally, or they felt more susceptible to infection.

They also discovered that the stronger an individual held conspiracy theory beliefs, the less likely they were to receive the vaccine.

Dr Eberhardt, from the University’s Centre for Applied Psychological Science and the Centre for Social Innovation said: “We found that people were more likely to say they would get vaccinated if they felt COVID-19 was dangerous, they thought they were susceptible to getting COVID-19 and if they felt that getting vaccinated was easy for them.

“However, the greater individuals felt the rewards were for not getting vaccinated, and the stronger their conspiracy beliefs about COVID-19, the less likely they were to want to get vaccinated.

“Unvaccinated individuals also had greater conspiracy beliefs about COVID-19 than vaccinated ones.”

She added: “These findings have important implications for campaigns to increase the uptake of the vaccine, because they suggest that successful campaigns should use strategies that emphasise how severe COVID-19 can be and that anyone can catch it.

“At the same time, such campaigns should aim to increase people’s confidence in their ability to get vaccinated while reducing the rewards that they see in not getting vaccinated. Additionally, COVID-19 conspiracy beliefs should be addressed, as these appear to stop some people from getting vaccinated.”

Professor Ling added: “Our work also shows how important it is to consider the source of many of these beliefs; social media - and to develop campaigns that specifically address this form of misinformation. Assuming that people will naturally seek out the most accurate or trustworthy information just wasn’t borne out by our data.”

It is hoped that findings from the study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network North East and North Cumbria, will help the Government and public health authorities develop effective interventions and boost uptake of the jab.

The study can be found here: Eberhardt, J., & Ling, J. (2021). Predicting COVID-19 Vaccination Intention Using Protection Motivation Theory and Conspiracy Beliefs. (DOI 10.1016/j.vaccine.2021.09.010).

The article is in Vaccine Vol. 39, issue 42 (pp. 6269-6275), published by Elsevier. Vaccine is the pre-eminent journal for those interested in vaccines and vaccination (

Last modified: Fri, 15 Oct 2021 11:42:10 BST