Community-level characteristics of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in England: A nationwide cross-sectional study

medRxiv. 2022 Mar 16;2022.03.15.22272362. doi: 10.1101/2022.03.15.22272362. Preprint


One year after the start of the COVID-19 vaccination programme in England, more than 43 million people older than 12 years old had received at least a first dose. Nevertheless, geographical differences persist, and vaccine hesitancy is still a major public health concern; understanding its determinants is crucial to managing the COVID-19 pandemic and preparing for future ones. In this cross-sectional population-based study we used cumulative data on the first dose of vaccine received by 01-01-2022 at Middle Super Output Area level in England. We used Bayesian hierarchical spatial models and investigated if the geographical differences in vaccination uptake can be explained by a range of community-level characteristics covering socio-demographics, political view, COVID-19 health risk awareness and targeting of high risk groups and accessibility. Deprivation is the covariate most strongly associated with vaccine uptake (Odds Ratio 0.55, 95%CI 0.54-0.57; most versus least deprived areas). The most ethnically diverse areas have a 38% (95%CI 36-40%) lower odds of vaccine uptake compared with those least diverse. Areas with the highest proportion of population between 12 and 24 years old had lower odds of vaccination (0.87, 95%CI 0.85-0.89). Finally increase in vaccine accessibility is associated with higher COVID-19 uptake (OR 1.07, 95%CI 1.03-1.12). Our results suggest that one year after the start of the vaccination programme, there is still evidence of inequalities in uptake, affecting particularly minorities and marginalised groups. Strategies including prioritising active outreach across communities and removing practical barriers and factors that make vaccines less accessible are needed to level up the differences.

Publication types

  • Preprint