The psychological and behavioural correlates of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and resistance in Ireland and the UK

Jane Walsh, Miranda Comar, Joy Folan, Samantha Williams, Susanna Kola-Palmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The successful control of the COVID-19 pandemic depends largely on the acceptance and uptake of a COVID-19 vaccine among the public. Thus, formative research aiming to understand and determine the causes of weak and/or positive vaccination intentions is vital in order to ensure the success of future and current vaccination programmes through the provision of effective, evidence-based health messaging. Methods: A cross-sectional survey was completed by a sample of Irish (N = 500) and UK (N = 579) citizens using the online platform ‘Qualtrics’. Participants completed a questionnaire battery comprised of health, attitudes/beliefs, influences, and behavioural intention measures. Demographic information was also assessed. Results: Results highlighted similar rates of vaccine intention among both samples; where a total of 76.8% Irish respondents, and 73.7% of UK respondents indicated that they intended to be immunized if the government advised them to take the COVID-19 vaccine. Overall, 23.2% of Irish respondents reported being vaccine hesitant or vaccine resistant, while a rate of 26.3% of UK respondents reported vaccine hesitancy or resistance. Univariate analysis highlighted that both gender and age played a significant role in vaccine intention, with women under age 30 reporting higher rate of vaccine hesitancy. Multivariate analysis revealed that significant correlates of vaccine acceptance included peer influence, GP influence, civic responsibility, perceived benefit, and positive vaccination attitudes. Those who reported vaccine resistance and hesitancy were more likely to have less positive vaccination attitudes and perceive higher vaccination risk. Discussion: The current sociodemographic and psychological profiles of vaccine resistant and hesitant individuals provide a useful resource for informing health practitioners in the UK and Ireland with the means of enhancing pro-vaccine attitudes and promoting vaccination uptake. The current research shows indications of associations between distrust in the vaccine itself and vaccine hesitancy and resistance. Thus, to effectively design and deliver public health messages that ensures the success of vaccination uptake, it is likely that governments and public health officials will need to take actions to garner trust in the safety of the vaccine itself. Additionally, campaigns to decrease hesitancy and resistance in the COVID-19 vaccine may benefit in targeting altruism to increase willingness to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103550
Number of pages14
JournalActa Psychologica
Early online date5 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2022


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