Covid vaccines: passports, blood clots and changing trust in government

Four in 10 people think those without a Covid-19 vaccination will be discriminated against, while around a quarter of the public have concerns about vaccine passports, according to a new study. The research, by the University of Bristol and King’s College London, also finds that three in 10 people say the vaccine rollout has increased their trust in the UK government, and that before the latest news about the AstraZeneca vaccine, a majority did not believe it causes blood clots.

The findings are based on a survey of 2,210 UK adults aged 18 to 75 conducted between 24 and 26 March 2021.

Vaccine discrimination and passports

  • 39 per cent of the public believe unvaccinated people will face discrimination, compared with 28 per cent who do not share this concern.
  • 44 per cent predict that vaccination passports will be sold on the black market, compared with 18 per cent who think they won’t.
  • 25 per cent think vaccine passports will reduce our civil liberties - but 50 per cent think they won’t negatively affect personal freedoms.
  • 22 per cent believe vaccine passports will be used by the government for surveillance - but double this proportion, 45 per cent, think they will not. People from ethnic minority groups (37 per cent) are around twice as likely as white people (21 per cent) to think the passports will be used for surveillance.

How the vaccination effort has affected public trust in the UK government

When people are asked how their trust in the UK government has changed as a result of the overall experience of the pandemic, 18 per cent say it has increased, while 39 per cent say it has decreased (39 per cent say it’s made no difference).

But they have a much more favourable perception when asked how the vaccination programme has influenced their views. In this case, 30 per cent say their trust in the government has increased because of the vaccine rollout and communications about it, while 19 per cent say it has decreased (47 per cent say no difference).

49 per cent of 2019 Conservative voters say the rollout has made them trust the UK government more, compared with 27 per cent who say the same about the overall experience of the pandemic. Labour voters are no more likely to say their trust in government has increased when asked about the vaccination effort (17 per cent) rather than the pandemic as a whole (15 per cent).

There are also relatively big changes among some age groups, depending on whether they are asked about the vaccination rollout or the handling of the pandemic overall. For example, the proportion of 25- to 34-year-olds who say their trust in the UK government has increased is twice as high when asked about the vaccine programme rather than the pandemic in general (30 per cent vs 15 per cent).

Blood clotting with the AstraZeneca vaccine

Before the latest announcement by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority, one in eight people (13 per cent) believed that the AstraZeneca vaccine causes blood clots, and a quarter (27 per cent) said they didn’t know - but the majority (60 per cent) thought it was false.

People from ethnic minorities (27 per cent) were more than twice as likely as white people (11 per cent) to believe the AstraZeneca vaccine causes blood clots. Belief in this claim was also much higher among younger age groups - for example, 29 per cent of those aged 18 to 24 thought it’s true, compared with 5 per cent of those aged 45 to 54.

Professor Bobby Duffy , director of the Policy Institute at King’s College London, said: “These results show that the government needs to tread carefully on vaccine passports and certificates, as significant proportions of the public have concerns to be addressed, including on discrimination, surveillance and fraud. This will require a lot of testing and communication over the next few months, particularly with some segments of the population, including ethnic minorities, who have high levels of concern.

“And while six in 10 people did not believe the AstraZeneca vaccine caused blood clots before recent official announcements, this is likely to change significantly, underscoring the need to keep being clear with the public on the benefits of vaccination.’

Siobhan McAndrew , senior lecturer in quantitative social science at the University of Bristol, said: “The public are overall highly favourable towards the vaccination rollout - but a very high level of vaccine uptake is needed to ensure we can mix safely again. Health communication needs to keep adapting to the priorities and concerns of the remaining priority groups, which are successively younger, more questioning of authority, and more ethnically diverse.’


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