Optimising General Public Uptake of a Covid-19 Vaccine: A Mixed Methods Study (OPTIMUM)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Stirling
Department Name: School of Health Sciences

Abstract

The Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 has disrupted people's daily lives in many parts of the world, including in the UK, and it has caused many people to become ill and even die. Scientists, policy makers and the general public hope that a Covid-19 vaccine will developed soon, to help to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in future.

As with any vaccination, it is very important that the public are confident in the vaccine so that most people will want to choose to have the vaccine. A high uptake of the vaccine is needed to protect as many individuals from becoming ill as possible, and to stop the spread of the virus. Recent studies suggest most people want a vaccine, but a minority of people are uncertain about whether they would want to be vaccinated against Covid-19. This seems to be because some people are worried about the safety of a new vaccine or do not have trust in the benefits of vaccination more generally.

We want to understand more about what people see as the upsides and downsides of a new Covid-19 vaccine. This information will help to design a vaccination campaign that is trusted by people because it tells them what they want to - or need to - know before making a decision about having the vaccination. A good vaccination campaign would help to increase vaccine uptake, and help people separate facts about the vaccine from misinformed stories.

To understand what hopes and worries people have about a Covid-19 vaccine, we plan to do a study on people's attitudes towards a new Covid-19 vaccine. The study will have four parts.

In the first part, we will interview 12-15 key people involved in vaccine policy and in providing vaccines in different parts of the UK. The interviews will ask about: plans for vaccine roll-out; expected barriers and facilitators to vaccine uptake; communication challenges; key messages, channels and target groups, including professional and public; and any helfpul learning from other countries and other campaigns.

In the second part, we will ask a sample of around 2,250 adults in the general population across Great Britain to take part in a survey about Covid-19 and a vaccine to prevent it. The people we ask will be a random sample of people who have taken part in the British Social Attitudes Survey in the past. The survey will include questions in five key ares: (1) typical behaviour in the past for other vaccines (e.g. annual flu vaccination, childhood vaccination); (2) general attitudes to vaccination; (3) experience of Covid-19 infection and whether people feel they are likely to get Covid-19 in the future (e.g. tested positive, suspected infection, contact with people with Covid-19 through their work, being in some of the groups that were asked to 'shield'); (4) attitudes and beliefs towards a new Covid-19 vaccine (e.g. safety, effectiveness, accessibility, necessity, trust, sources of information about vaccination, responsibility to others); and (5) people's intentions (e.g. whether they think they would agree to be vaccinated). Participants will also be asked about views and use of the NHS Tracking App.

In the third part, will will invite a smaller sample of about 30 people, including some people at higher risk of Covid-19, to take part in more in-depth interviews so that we can understand their hopes and concerns about the development and roll-out of a Covid-19 vaccine in much more detail.

In the last part of the study, we will go back to key people involved in vaccine policy and in providing vaccines in different parts of the UK and invite them to workshops so that they can hear about the study findings and use these to shape their information and plans to support high uptake of the vaccine.

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