The Covid pandemic appears to have negatively affected vaccine confidence in the UK, a study has found.

University of Portsmouth researchers anonymously surveyed two cohorts of over 1,000 adults in 2019 and 2022 respectively to evaluate their vaccine confidence.

They noted a ‘significant decline’ in confidence in vaccines in 2022 compared with 2019, across all demographic groups.

According to the researchers, this is the first data collection on vaccine hesitancy trends that compares post-pandemic data with figures collected prior to March 2020.

The Vaccine Confidence Score dropped from 22 to 20 during the time period, the study calculated, with 23.8% of participants reporting a decrease in their vaccine confidence.

The ‘majority of internal trends were comparable between the two surveys with regards to gender, graduate status and religious belief’ between the two surveys, however ‘vaccine confidence patterns showed considerable alterations with regards to age and ethnicity’, the report said.

Specific findings included:

  • Middle-aged participants were considerably more hesitant than younger groups in the 2019 cohort, however this was not the case in the 2022 survey.
  • In both surveys White participants showed significantly higher vaccine confidence than those from Black backgrounds; in the 2022 cohort, unlike the pre-pandemic group, Asian participants showed significantly lower confidence than White ones.

The 2019 survey was not designed to have a follow-up however, the researchers decided to repeat the survey due to the pandemic.

They commented: ‘This study suggests that paradoxically, despite the success of Covid-19 vaccination campaigns, vaccine confidence has significantly declined since the onset of the pandemic; the comparison of a pre- and post-pandemic cohort sheds light on the differential effect that the pandemic had on vaccine confidence in different demographic groups.’

This comes after the Department of Health and Social Care confirmed in September that Covid vaccine advice for pregnant women has not changed, after false reports on social media.