COVID-19: More than 1.3 million people in England haven't yet taken up coronavirus vaccine offer, analysis suggests

13 April 2021, 20:00 | Updated: 13 April 2021, 21:49

More than a million people have not yet taken up the offer of a COVID vaccine in England, analysis shows.

It comes after the government said it had reached its goal of offering a coronavirus vaccine to everyone most vulnerable to the disease ahead of the 15 April target.

NHS England says 19 out of 20 of those most at risk have had a COVID jab.

With roughly 27 million in the top nine priority groups, this means 1 in 20 people - around 1.35 million - have not had a dose, according to the PA news agency.

The Department of Health and Social Care says around 95% of people aged 50 and over have received a first dose in England, while 92% of the clinically vulnerable have also been jabbed.

However, experts believe the outstanding 1.3 million is more likely due to a lack of access than "outright refuseniks".

Health officials have stressed that the offer of a vaccination is "evergreen" and does not expire.

Robert Dingwall, professor of sociology at Nottingham Trent University, said: "The first thing to remember with any vaccination programme is the primary reason for not taking it up is almost always one of access, rather than outright resistance.

"For the most part, it's because the vaccination programme hasn't reached some group in the form that is acceptable to them, at a time and a place and within a framework of persuasion that convinces them that it's a good idea.

"So I think the number of outright refuseniks in that 1.3 million is likely to be very small."

According to the Office for National Statistics, vaccine hesitancy is highest among people aged 16 to 29.

ONS data found that 12% of the age bracket - roughly 1.2 million people - said they had not taken the vaccine, would not take it if offered, or didn't know if they would take it.

This compares with about 9% hesitancy in the 30 to 49 age bracket, an estimated 1.6 million people.

Previous ONS research found that some reasons for "negative sentiment" included worry about side effects and the long-term impact on health, and people wanting to wait to see how well the vaccines work.