Britons say UK children should be prioritised over adults in developing countries for vaccines

Eir NolsoeData Journalist
June 08, 2021, 4:05 PM UTC

Young Britons disagree and would rather see coronavirus vaccines being used to protect adults in low income countries

The UK medicine regulator approved the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine for children aged 12 to 15 on Friday. But some experts have said that it presents ethical dilemmas for the government.

First is the question of whether it is right to vaccinate children and teenagers when the main benefit will be to adults (in terms of preventing transmission), and second is whether it is right to vaccinate low-risk groups like children in the UK when those shots could be donated to at-risk groups in poorer nations.

But many Britons don’t feel the same way, with half of the public saying the government should prioritise vaccinating British children and teenagers over adults in developing countries. Only three in ten people (28%) say the government should put adults in developing countries first.

Young people disagree with the wider public view, with two in five 18-24-year-olds (43%) saying adults in developing countries should come first, while three in ten (29%) say children and teenagers in the UK should be the main priority. In contrast, the oldest Britons, aged 65+, who are most at risk from coronavirus, feel strongest about the merit of vaccinating children and teenagers. Two thirds prefer this option, while only one in five (18%) believe grown-ups in low income countries should come first.

Labour voters are less inclined to agree that children and teenagers at home should come first, although it is still the more popular view among this group at 43% vs 38%. In comparison, over two thirds of Conservative voters (68%) want politicians to give vaccines to children and teenagers in the UK first, while only a fifth (18%) favour vaccinating adults abroad.