Empirical exploration into perceptions towards a Covid-19 vaccination and how attitudes and belief systems may influence vaccination uptake among Students in Higher Education in England

  • John Horton
Keywords: Hesitancy, Vaccination, Covid-19, Students, Higher Education


Background:  Vaccine  hesitancy  is  a threat  to  vaccine  uptake  and  can  reduce  the  collective  benefit vaccination programmes offer through herd immunity. Although vaccine uptake is generally high  in  the  UK,  at  the  time  of  this  study  the  vaccination  programme had  moved  through  a  tiered system, starting with those most at risk from Covid-19 related health harms, and then continue down through the population age brackets. Currently the vaccination programme is covering the mean age (28.12) of students sampled in this study. Therefore, it may be critical to understand the reasons behind vaccine hesitancy within this group of the population to help inform targeted public health intervention. The aim of this study is to explore  perceptions  towards  a  Covid-19  vaccination  and  how  attitudes  and  beliefs may influence vaccination uptake among students in Higher Education in England

Methods: A cross-sectional online survey with convenience sampling was undertaken with Higher Education students in the UK. Participants must have been currently studying and live in the UK to participate.  A total of 154 individuals were recruited, (18 participants were excluded) with a final sample size of 136. Vaccine beliefs were measured across 4 domains; Barriers; Safety; Seriousness in my age; and Cue to action.

Results: Vaccine beliefs and attitudes were predicted by White ethnicity (b= -23, t= -2.95 p < .004), higher perceived safety of vaccine (b= -45, t= -5.04 p <.001), higher cue to action score (b=.49, t= 6.15 p <.001), higher perceived seriousness of Covid-19 to people of participants’ own age (b= .18, t=2.28, p < .025).

Conclusions:  Vaccine hesitancy was explored, and associations discovered between predicted variable outcomes and vaccine hesitancy. Recommended  future research  into  vaccine  hesitancy  may  wish  to  further  explore the  association  between perceived seriousness of Covid-19 by age as vaccination continues in younger age brackets. It would be beneficial to understand if fears concerning the safety of the Covid-19 vaccine is greater than the fear of the perceived health risks from catching Covid-19.