More than 50 per cent of those who said they would definitely not get a Covid vaccine have since had one, a mass study by King’s College London and the University of Bristol has found.
The research involved almost 5,000 adults aged 18 to 75 who were first asked their views about getting a jab last winter, with the question repeated in the spring.
While more than a third were certain they would opt for a vaccine and almost one in five thought it was likely, others were unsure or thought it unlikely. Seven per cent said they would definitely not do so.
Researchers questioned almost 2,000 of those who took part in the first survey again in April and found that 52 per cent who had said they would definitely not get a Covid vaccine had already done so if one had been offered.
Overall, 94 percent of people invited for a vaccine have taken up the offer, the survey found.
The study is based on a survey of 4,896 UK adults aged 18 to 75 conducted between April 1 and 16. It follows up research carried out in November and December and tracks 1,879 of the same individuals to see how their views have changed and why.
How many people have been vaccinated?
The research found that vaccine confidence has grown in many ethnic minority groups. While 36 per cent of people from ethnic minority backgrounds had said they were certain or very likely to get vaccinated when asked in November and December, 72 per cent of those have either now been jabbed or intend to be.
Among white people, the proportion saying the same has increased from 56 per cent to 87 per cent.
The survey found there are still major differences between different religious groups. While 67 percent of Muslims now express vaccine confidence – up from 23 per cent last year – this is far less than among Anglicans, of whom 94 per cent are certain or very likely to get a jab or have already had one.
Researchers said hesitancy was not driven by religious practice but by different beliefs in different religious groups, with Muslims four times as likely as the public overall to think that vaccines contain pork products.
Among this group, people were far more likely to think that the vaccines affect fertility, with 29 per cent believing people who have had the jab may find it harder to have children in future, compared with seven per cent of the population overall who believe this.
Dr Siobhan McAndrew, senior lecturer in quantitative social science at the University of Bristol, said: "The high rates accepting the invitation to take up a vaccine are extremely encouraging. Convergence over time in vaccine confidence among members of different ethnic and religious groups provides evidence of a strong pro-vaccine norm.
"There is an apparently large difference in intention to get vaccinated between religious groups, with Muslims in particular standing out – but when we control for characteristics associated with religion, such as ethnicity, immigration status, social class and age, these differences are much reduced, suggesting that it’s not religious belief in itself that’s the driver.
"Nevertheless, the connections that the religiously active have with religious peers, faith community leaders and with the NHS’s diverse workforce serve as a valuable communications resource. Tailored messaging via these channels will address specific community needs, reassure the cautious and support vaccine confidence."
The research found that trust in the NHS was higher among white people than among those from ethnic minority groups. Overall, 36 percent of people from ethnic minority groups said they have a great deal of trust in the NHS, compared with 55 percent of white people.