• Assessing vaccine hesitancy in the UK population using a generalized vaccine hesitancy survey instrument.

      Luyten, Jeroen; Bruyneel, Luk; van Hoek, Albert Jan (2019-04-24)
      In many regions of the world, vaccine hesitancy has become an important concern to public health. A key part of any effective solution to it is to gain an in-depth understanding of the problem: its scope, who holds hesitant views and for which reasons. We adapt the original 10-item Vaccine Hesitancy Scale (VHS), which targets parental attitudes, to a more generic version that captures general attitudes to vaccination. We use this adapted VHS in a sample of 1402 British citizens, selected from a large online panel (N > 1,000,000) based on quota for age, gender, educational attainment and region (response rate 43%). The existence of VHS subscales is evaluated via exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis. We describe the extent of vaccine hesitancy in the sample, and use simple and multiple regression analysis to examine associations between respondent characteristics and vaccine hesitancy. Despite ambiguities in defining hesitancy, we found that a substantial part of our sample held hesitant views about vaccination, particularly for those items reflecting aversion to risks of side effects. Four percent responded in a hesitant way to all ten items and ninety to at least one of the ten items. In line with recent studies in other populations, we identified two subscales within the VHS: lack of confidence in the need for vaccines and aversion to the risk of side effects. We found significant associations between hesitancy and various respondent characteristics but the predictive power of these associations remained limited. Our study suggests that whereas a substantial percentage of the British population is vaccine hesitant, these views are not clustered in typical demographic features. The small but important adaptation of the VHS to target general attitudes seems to result in highly similar psychometric characteristics as the original scale that exclusively targets parents. We provide suggestions for further validation of the VHS.