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Young women less likely to accept Covid-19 vaccine, NUI Galway study reveals


Young women are significantly less likely to accept a Covid-19 vaccine, new research from a joint Irish-UK project has revealed.

The study revealed that 75pc of those surveyed intend to get a Covid-19 vaccine, 11pc say they would not and 14pc were unsure.

The vaccine hesitancy study, carried out by NUI Galway in collaboration with the University of Huddersfield, England asked 1000 people in Ireland and the UK about their attitudes and intentions of receiving the vaccine.

The study showed that women, in particular, young women under 30 were were significantly less likely to say they would accept a Covid-19 vaccine. Less than 70 pc had a positive response and 20 pc indicated high levels of uncertainty.

Dr Jane Walsh, Senior Lecturer in Psychology and Director of the Mobile Technology and Health (mHealth) Research Group at NUI Galway, said: “It is possible, that one of the reasons behind young women’s reluctance to signal an intention to get a Covid-19 vaccine is related to issues around fertility and this warrants further investigation".

However, the HSE website currently states that there is no evidence that the vaccination affects fertility.

She said, “These findings suggest that messages that are channelled through relevant social influencers may have a significant impact on vaccine uptake. It is also concerning that those who vote ‘no’ to the vaccine have a lower sense of civic responsibility. But what is clear, in general, is that there is still a high level of uncertainty around Covid-19 vaccination”.

The findings of the research will be presented this month to the Behavioural Change Subgroup that advises Nphet.

Dr Walsh added that “Understanding vaccine hesitancy is key to addressing public concerns, promoting confidence and increasing vaccine uptake”.

The research team cautioned that positive attitudes towards vaccination are far less likely to be driven by fear messaging but rather by developing a stronger message of trust in the government and authorities.

Dr Susie Kola-Palmer, University of Huddersfield, co-leader on the research project, said: “We can shift attitudes and intentions to Covid-19 vaccine from ‘unsure’ to ‘yes’ if public health campaigns provide clear messages about the benefits”.

She said, “Trust in authorities is a significant barrier among people who have no intention of being vaccinated. Public health experts and governments should consider strategies to address this. Personalised messaging needs to be targeted at young people, and women in particular, to address their concerns. And it needs to be made a priority.”

The research was carried out through an online survey of more than 1,000 people, 80 pc female and 20 pc male between January and March 2021.

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