The British Academy publishes reports examining COVID vaccine engagement in UK and USA

10 May 2022

The British Academy has today published 10 in-depth transatlantic reports exploring COVID-19 vaccine engagement in the UK and the US.

Awarded by the British Academy, the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) and the Science & Innovation Network in the USA (SIN USA) and funded by the UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the 10 research projects examine various aspects of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and engagement in the UK and US.

The projects include analyses of specific regional differences within the two countries, the factors influencing engagement with the vaccine – for instance, the influence of exposure to anti-vax protests or the effect of historic racial health inequalities – and the different ways that attitudes towards the vaccine are communicated and addressed.

The Academy has also published a policy and summary synthesis for policymakers, public health professionals, community leaders and other stakeholders that outlines insights and ideas from across the research projects across five themes:

  • Accessibility of vaccines
  • Patterns of vaccine hesitancy
  • Addressing historical injustices and structural vulnerabilities
  • Building trust and trustworthiness
  • Engagement across different audiences.

The research projects were funded under the research programme ‘COVID-19 Recovery: building future
pandemic preparedness and understanding citizen engagement in the USA and UK’, and build on the work of a pilot study exploring levels of vaccine engagement in four locations: Oldham and Tower Hamlets in the UK, and the cities of Boston and Hartford in the US.

Professor Simon Goldhill FBA, Foreign Secretary of the British Academy, said:

“This timely collection of studies will help policymakers better understand the many challenges to community confidence and COVID-19 vaccine engagement. On behalf of the British Academy, I would like to thank the SSRC and SIN-USA for our partnership and the scholars themselves for undertaking and delivering such fascinating and robust research in such short time.”

Professor Anna Harvey, President of the Social Science Research Council, said:

“SSRC is particularly pleased, through this partnership, to support a rich and diverse set of research projects, drawing on all the methodological strengths offered by the social and behavioural sciences. These findings showcase how research can speak to urgent and complex social questions, such as the intersection of vaccine confidence, inequality, and building public trust, offering significant potential to be mobilised by policymakers for the public good.”

Dame Karen Pierce DCMG, Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the USA, said:

“Understanding vaccine engagement is crucial to the future of global pandemic preparedness, and I am delighted to see the excellent research published this week by the British Academy. This important work will help our communities and public officials better prepare for future global health events. I am grateful to the exceptional British and American researchers whose ground-breaking studies have provided new insights into this key public health question, showcasing the important collaboration happening between the UK and the US to combat COVID.”

The full list of reports is: 

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