More than 80% of Reading people who haven’t had a Covid vaccine are worried about side-effects, according to preliminary findings from a Healthwatch Reading survey.
We carried out an online survey and discussions via Facebook to help the local NHS and public health experts understand why Reading has lower Covid vaccination rates than neighbouring areas.
Between 22 February and 7 March 2022, 155 people completed our survey and a further 277 comments were given via social media discussions.
Most survey respondents said concerns about side effects had put them off, with some people claiming their family or friends had experienced heart disease or stroke after vaccination [the national drug safety body, the MHRA, states that the benefits of Covid vaccines outweigh any risks].
Top reasons given for not getting vaccinated
- 83% of survey respondents said they were worried about vaccine side-effects
- 31% believed Covid was a mild disease
- 27% felt they were covered by previously being infected with Covid
- 16% were worried it would affect their fertility
The initial findings, which we presented to the Reading Health and Wellbeing Board on 18 March, also revealed that 70% of respondents felt nothing would change their mind about getting vaccinated.
Katie Summers, from NHS Berkshire West Clinical Commissioning Group told the board that the 'informative' survey showed more needed to be done to demystify vaccines for local people, and new Community Vaccine Champions would play a vital role in doing this.
She added that the upcoming launch of a vaccine drop-in at South Reading Community Hub would reach more communities, especially people who might not have felt comfortable visiting other vaccine venues.
Councillor Graeme Hoskin, chair of the board, said he looked forward to the full findings from Healthwatch Reading to understand more about what could help change people's minds about coming forward.
The full findings are due out in April.