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BSI response to study on public acceptance of a potential COVID-19 vaccine

24 September 2020

The ongoing University College London COVID-19 Social Study has published today new results on public attitudes to COVID-19 vaccination reporting that a fifth of people are unlikely to get vaccinated against COVID-19. In response, the British Society for Immunology has released the following statement. 

Dr Doug Brown, Chief Executive of the British Society for Immunology, said:

“Vaccines are the safest and most effective method we have to protect us against infectious diseases and save lives. Beyond the benefits of individual protection, having a high proportion of the population vaccinated can stop the spread of the infectious disease in its tracks and protect whole communities. To be able to achieve this, we need many factors in place including having accessible vaccination services and making sure those services are properly funded. However, as this new report from University College London makes clear, public attitude and confidence in vaccines are also crucial.

“The concerns highlighted by this report over uptake of a potential COVID-19 vaccine, and indeed all vaccines, are a real worry for public health. Once any future COVID-19 vaccine has been proven to be safe and effective, promoting high uptake will be critical to stopping this disease spreading through our communities. We have already seen the huge benefits that vaccines bring in tackling other infectious diseases and stopping our children from getting sick - for example, it’s estimated 20 million measles cases and 4,500 deaths have been averted in the UK since the introduction of a vaccine. We need to maintain and increase uptake across all current vaccines and for any future vaccines that might become available.

“To combat people’s concerns around vaccination, it’s vital that the public have easy access to reliable, evidence-based information on how vaccines work and why they are important. To build trust and improve confidence in any future coronavirus vaccine, both government and the scientific community need to continue to be open and honest with people to explain the vaccine development process and to create high profile opportunities to actively engage with the public to answer any questions they might have.”

You can download the data from the University College London COVID-19 Social Study here.