Hesitancy over having Covid vaccine sees sharpest decline in Wales

  • Dr Simon Williams from Swansea University on vaccine hesitancy figures for Wales

There has been a "sharp decline" in the number of people feeling hesitant in Wales about getting a coronavirus vaccine, official figures have shown.

The rate of people in the country said to be reluctant about having their jab, fell from 9% in January to March, compared to 4% between April to June.

There was an even greater fall in west Wales and the Valleys in the same period - down from 11% to 5%.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has shown that adults from all English regions, Scotland and Wales were more likely to agree to a Covid vaccine during the first half of 2021.

The ONS describes vaccine hesitancy as:

  • adults who have been offered the coronavirus vaccine but decide not to be vaccinated,

  • people who report being very or fairly unlikely to have the vaccine,

  • those who have responded "neither likely nor unlikely", "don't know" or "prefer not to say" to the question "If a vaccine was offered to you, how likely or unlikely would you be to have it?"

Some of the largest changes in attitude towards the vaccine were from those with pre-existing bad health. The data has shown people with poor health are now equally or less vaccine hesitant than those deemed fit and healthy.

This has been linked to many seeing the benefits the vaccine has had in preventing hospitalisations from Covid.

People with bad health are now equally or less vaccine hesitant than those in good health. Credit: PA Images

However figures from across Great Britain overall show young adults, those of Black or Black British ethnicity, and the unemployed are generally the most hesitant towards vaccines.

The figures come after all but some of Wales' Covid restrictions were relaxed over the weekend.

Alert Level Zero: The Covid rules explained in Wales

Meeting indoors

From 6am on 7 August, will be no legal limits on the number of people who can meet, including in private homes, public places or at events.

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What businesses can reopen?

Any businesses currently still closed will be able to re-open. This includes nightclubs and other entertainment venues.

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What about self-isolating?

From midnight on 7 August, adults who are fully vaccinated and children and young people under the age of 18, will no longer need to isolate if they are identified as close conatcts of someone who has coronavirus.

This was announced by the First Minister last week.

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Social distancing

It's not yet clear whether or not the 'two-metre rule' under which businesses are obliged by law to ensure social distancing in the workplace will be dropped.

Welsh Government sources say that it is one of the final details being discussed.

In its announcement, the government says premises and workplaces will have "more flexibility" about which "reasonable measures they take" to minimise the risk of the virus.

"These should be tailored to their risk assessment and their specific circumstances".

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Meanwhile, charities from across the country are urging people to be mindful of those who are vulnerable from complications if they catch coronavirus.

Richard Pugh, from Macmillan Cancer Support said, "While many people in Wales will welcome these freedoms, people with cancer may feel worried and uncertain about these changes.  

"It's vital that Welsh Government continues to communicate clearly with people with cancer, who are clinically extremely vulnerable, and supports them as coronavirus restrictions ease.  

"People in Wales can continue to support people with cancer by wearing masks and continuing to social distance."

All but some of Wales' Covid restrictions were relaxed on Saturday 7 August. Many younger people are now being encouraged to be vaccinated. Credit: PA Images

Meanwhile, new research by Swansea University has shown people are torn on whether children should be offered coronavirus vaccines.

A study by Dr Simon Williams, senior lecturer in people and organisations, has revealed there is lots of vaccine hesitancy among parents deciding if their child should be inoculated.

The main concerns include the unknown longer-term risks of the vaccines on children as well as whether youngsters can indeed catch, transmit or be severely harmed by coronavirus.

Dr Williams has said that parents may tend to be much more risk averse when it comes to children having the vaccine compared with themselves.

"As such, many seem to be thinking the risks of the vaccine outweigh the benefits - because they see a lack of evidence on the safety of the vaccine in children, particularly in the long term, coupled with the fact that children are not harmed by the disease in the same way as adults.

"However, it could be the case that if, and when, the vaccine is approved for use for older children in the UK, as more evidence comes out and more people start having their children vaccinated, this hesitancy will start to decline, in the same way as it did with adult vaccinations over the past year."