Restricting AstraZeneca vaccine to over-30s has minimal impact on safety perceptions

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
April 09, 2021, 8:00 AM UTC

Three quarters still see the vaccine as safe

Following concerns about blood clots, the UK’s drugs regulator – the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) – has recommended that 18-29 year olds should be offered an alternative to the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.

A new YouGov/Times poll shows that the decision has thus far had minimal impact on the perceived safety of the vaccine.

Three quarters of Britons (75%) currently consider the vaccine to be very or somewhat safe, basically unchanged from the 77% who said the same in mid-March. However, there has been a small decline in the number of people who consider the vaccine “very” safe, from 47% to 41%.

The number who consider the drug to be unsafe has ticked up slightly, from 9% to 13%.

The story is the similar among 18-24 year olds, who would be denied the vaccine under current circumstances. Two thirds of this age group currently consider the AstraZeneca vaccine safe (65%), compared to 62% in March, but with the proportion believing it to be “very” safe falling from 41% to 34% in the intervening time period (although please note that this difference is within the margin of error).

One in five young people (18%) consider the AZ vaccine unsafe, effectively the same as in the previous survey (19%).

Overall, the AstraZeneca vaccine is still seen as comparably safe as the Pfizer vaccine, which 78% of Britons consider safe, including 51% who believe it to be “very” safe.

Perceived safety of Moderna vaccine ticks up after first shots are delivered in Britain

Since the last survey, the Moderna vaccine has been introduced in the UK, with the first doses being administered in west Wales. More people are now likely to say that they consider the vaccine safe – 57%, up from 50% three weeks ago. Only 6% consider the vaccine unsafe, with the rest unsure (37%), unsurprising given the lack of publicity around the vaccine and its very recent introduction.

See the full results here