Summary of report content
Healthwatch Ealing, Healthwatch Hammersmith and Fulham and Healthwatch Hounslow undertook research into attitudes to and experiences of the Covid-19 vaccination programme. They hosted webinars and undertook interviews with the public and healthcare professionals. In total they spoke to 160 people between December 2020 and March 2021.
Their research found that there has been a gradual, positive shift in attitudes towards the COVID-19 vaccines over time as the vaccine roll-out has progressed and, subsequently, more information about the effects of the vaccine has been released to the public. Initially, when participants of the first webinar in December 2020 were polled about their attitudes towards the vaccine, 58% of the respondents said they would take it. At the time of the webinar, the vaccination programme had recently begun with 130,000 people having received the first dose of the vaccine, so information on the effects of the vaccine was only just beginning to be released into the public domain. This was evident in the feedback received from the webinar participants who had concerns about the lack of information as well as the fast development of the vaccines and short trial periods that were not representative of vulnerable people.
At the second webinar in February 2021 when over 14 million vaccines had been administered, the overall sentiment toward the vaccination had become more positive, as 80% of the participants said they would get the vaccine if offered.
By the time of the third webinar in March 2021 more than 28.5 million people had been vaccinated and this was reflected in the poll with 73% of the participants having already taken their COVID-19 vaccine, and 88% of the participants saying they would take the vaccine when offered. Two of the guest speakers in the March webinar that Black Caribbean and African communities and areas of deprivation had a low vaccine uptake. Healthcare professionals in Hounslow had taken action by utilising Mobile Education Sites, for example, to educate the local communities where the vaccine uptake was low. The use of different communication channels, such as social media, and peer-to-peer education to target specific age groups and communities was also suggested as options to share information on the effects of the vaccine and therefore improve the vaccine uptake.
When Healthwatch Ealing and Healthwatch Hounslow conducted telephone interviews with people who had already received the COVID-19 vaccine, the overwhelming majority had had a positive experience with their vaccination. However, there were a few individuals who were hesitant about taking the vaccine and at the time had not yet done so, as they felt more information about side effects and ingredients were needed.