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COVID-19 vaccines, hesitancy and mental health
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  1. Katharine Smith1,2,
  2. Sinéad Lambe1,
  3. Daniel Freeman1,2,
  4. Andrea Cipriani1,2
  1. 1 Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  2. 2 Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, Warneford Hospital, Oxford, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Andrea Cipriani, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, Oxford OX3 7JX, UK; andrea.cipriani{at}psych.ox.ac.uk

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‘None of us will be safe until everyone is safe. Global access to coronavirus vaccines, tests and treatments for everyone who needs them, anywhere, is the only way out’. This statement by Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission1 has become the rallying call for COVID-19 vaccination. The success of a safe and efficacious COVID-19 vaccine depends just not only on production and availability but also crucially on uptake.

In countries such as the UK where COVID-19 vaccine prioritisation and rollout are proceeding quickly, attitudes to vaccination have rapidly become a priority.2 Vaccine hesitancy (‘behavioural delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccines despite availability of vaccine services’)3 is not a single entity. Reasons vary and there is a continuum from complete acceptance to refusal of all vaccines, with vaccine hesitancy lying between the two poles. Factors involved include confidence (trusting or not the vaccine or provider), complacency (seeing the need or value of a vaccine) and convenience (easy, convenient access to the vaccine).3 4 Importantly, attitudes to vaccination can change and people who are initially hesitant can still come to see a vaccine’s safety, efficacy and necessity.5

Developing strategies to address hesitancy is key.6 The expedited development and relative novelty of the COVID-19 vaccines have led to public uncertainty.4 In addition, …

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