Black people, younger adults, people living in deprived areas of England and parents of children under five are more likely to be hesitant to receive the coronavirus vaccine, according to Office for National Statistics research.
The ONS found that while positive sentiment about the vaccine had increased from 78% in mid-December to 94% at the end of February, hesitancy remained significant in certain groups.
Among black or black British adults, 44% reported vaccine hesitancy, more than twice the proportion of any other ethnic group.
The 16-29 age group was the most likely to report vaccine hesitancy (17%), while the figure was 16% among adults in the most deprived areas of England, more than twice that in the least deprived areas.
Tim Vizard, a public policy analyst at ONS, said: “Over the past three months, we’ve seen people become increasingly positive about the Covid-19 vaccines, with over nine in 10 adults saying they would have it if offered, or having already had it.
“Of those who are hesitant about receiving the vaccine, it’s younger and black adults who are most likely to say this, with concerns around side-effects, long-term effects and how well the vaccine works being the most common reasons.”
Vaccine hesitancy refers to people who have rejected the vaccine, report being very or fairly unlikely to have it if offered or who responded “neither likely nor unlikely”, “don’t know” or “prefer not to say” when asked whether they would have it.
The ONS found that 16% of parents living with a dependent child aged under five reported vaccine hesitancy, twice as many as among non-parents or parents not living with a dependent child (a child under 16 or under 18 in full-time education who they have responsibility for).
Among mothers of under-fives who reported negative sentiment, 21% said they were pregnant or trying to conceive and were worried about any effects on the baby, almost twice the proportion of all women with negative sentiment.
The ONS surveyed more than 18,000 over-16s in Great Britain between 13 January and 7 February, although the latest statistics on positive sentiment were gathered between 24-28 February.
The prime minister’s spokesman said: “The government as well as the NHS as well as community groups, local leaders, faith leaders, we have all worked together to promote the efficacy and the safety of the vaccine. We will continue to do that.”