'Significant proportion' of population have concerns over vaccine passports, study finds

9 April 2021, 06:25 | Updated: 9 April 2021, 06:44

Significant proportions of the UK public have concerns about vaccine passports
Significant proportions of the UK public have concerns about vaccine passports. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

Significant proportions of the UK public have concerns about potential discrimination and surveillance issues surrounding vaccine passports, research suggests.

Around four in 10 adults believe unvaccinated people will be discriminated against, according to research from the University of Bristol and King's College London.

Some 44 per cent believe vaccine passports will be sold on the black market, according to the survey of 2,210 adults aged 18-75 in March.

A quarter of adults believe vaccine passports would reduce civil liberties, but half disagree.

And 22 per cent believe vaccine passports will be used by the Government for surveillance, while 45 per cent do not think this will happen.

People from ethnic minority backgrounds were more likely to think unvaccinated people will be discriminated against, and that vaccine passports will infringe civil liberties or be used for surveillance, the survey found.

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A Government review into "Covid status certification" said they could "potentially play a role" in settings such as theatres, nightclubs and mass events, and might also be used in pubs and restaurants to reduce social distancing restrictions.

The documents would record - either on an NHS app or a paper certificate - whether someone has had a vaccine, a recent negative coronavirus test or natural immunity having recovered from Covid-19.

The survey also identified "a great deal of uncertainty" around some claims about vaccine safety.

Half of respondents said they do not know if it is safe to get a jab while trying to conceive, while 19 per cent disagreed that this would be safe.

And 34 per cent said they are unsure whether a vaccine could make it harder to have children, with 9 per cent agreeing.

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The NHS says there is no evidence that the Covid-19 vaccine has any effect on chances of becoming pregnant, and there is no need to avoid pregnancy after vaccination.

Some 38 per cent of respondents said they do not know if coronavirus vaccines contain pork products.

Neither of the Covid jabs available across the UK contain animal products.

The majority of survey respondents - 81 per cet - agree it is important to be vaccinated even if you have previously contracted coronavirus.

More than three-quarters believe it is important to get a second jab but 9 per cent say it is "not worth" getting it as "it doesn't really increase your level of protection".

A second vaccine dose is important to provide longer lasting protection.

Professor Bobby Duffy, director of the Policy Institute at King's College London, said: "These results show that the Government needs to tread carefully on vaccine passports and certificates, as significant proportions of the public have concerns to be addressed, including on discrimination, surveillance and fraud.

"This will require a lot of testing and communication over the next few months, particularly with some segments of the population, including ethnic minorities, who have high levels of concern."

The polling suggests confidence in the UK Government has increased as the vaccination programme continues.

Some 30 per cent say their trust in the UK Government has increased because of the vaccine rollout, while 19% say it has decreased.

Dr Siobhan McAndrew, senior lecturer in quantitative social science at the University of Bristol, said: "The public are overall highly favourable towards the vaccination rollout - but a very high level of vaccine uptake is needed to ensure we can mix safely again.

"Health communication needs to keep adapting to the priorities and concerns of the remaining priority groups, which are successively younger, more questioning of authority, and more ethnically diverse."