95% of Humanists UK members who responded to a survey say they are likely or very likely to get vaccinated against Covid-19, when offered. Humanists UK is encouraging all adults to get vaccinated against Covid-19 if they are medically able to.
Humanists UK sent a survey to its 100,000 members and supporters, and asked them, amongst other things, ‘How likely are you to have the coronavirus vaccine when offered?’ Around 3,500 responded to this question. Amongst members, 92% said they were very likely, 3% somewhat likely, 1% unsure, 1% somewhat unlikely, and 3% very unlikely. Amongst members and registered supporters taken together, 88% said they were very likely, 4% somewhat likely, 2% unsure, 1% somewhat unlikely, and 5% very unlikely.
Respondents were also asked to give reasons for their response. Responses to this question suggest that around 1% of members and supporters will not be vaccinated simply because they have a legitimate medical exemption (for example because they have had a serious allergic reaction to a vaccine in the past).
The respondents may not be representative of Humanists UK’s members or supporters as a whole. But the notion that humanists are more likely to get vaccinated than the population as a whole is backed up by wider evidence from YouGov. A November poll found that 66% of British adults said they would have the Covid vaccine, versus 15% saying they would not. But this rose to 71% of those with humanist beliefs saying they would be vaccinated, versus 10% saying they would not. (A later January YouGov poll for the Times found that 81% of British adults now say they would have the Covid vaccine, versus 13% saying they would not – suggesting that support for the vaccine has gone up in recent months – although separate humanist figures are not available for the January poll.)
Humanists UK President and biologist Professor Alice Roberts commented:
‘I know that some people are thinking about whether or not to be vaccinated. I have looked at the science, and listened to the advice of colleagues whose medical expertise I trust. The indications are that there is no reason to be worried about the new Covid vaccines compared with other vaccines. They’ve been developed and released quickly – but that simply reflects the enormous investment that’s been put into them. In fact, it shows us all what can be done – and gives us great hope for treating other diseases that cause enormous suffering around the world, in the future.
‘When making a decision about vaccination, it’s extremely important to think about the harmful effects of contracting the virus itself – suffering with a bad infection, ending up with long Covid, or even dying. Although it’s not clear yet whether the vaccine will prevent transmission, there’s every reason to predict that it will, based on what we know about other vaccines. This means that even if you’re young and very healthy, and think you have a low risk of being badly affected by catching Covid, getting yourself vaccinated will help to protect more vulnerable people in our society. And that of course reminds me of the motto of Humanists UK: Think for yourself, act for everyone.
‘It’s a very personal choice of course. But I will be getting the vaccine as soon as I’m offered it.’
Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented:
‘Humanists look to science in understanding the universe and determining the right course of action, and here it is clear that everyone getting vaccinated if they are able to do so is the way out of the pandemic. It is welcome to see this approach borne out in these figures.
‘We encourage all adults who are able to get vaccinated to do so, when asked to by the NHS. Even those at low risk of getting seriously ill with coronavirus should get vaccinated because of the risk of their passing it on to others. The evidence shows that the vaccines are safe and effective, and that evidence has been through randomly-controlled trials that are independent of government and of the highest standard. The trial process may have been faster than with other vaccinations, but it has not been to a lower standard. The speed merely reflects the seriousness of this pandemic and the unprecedented resources that have been put into developing these vaccines as a result.’
The only exemptions to the NHS vaccination programme are most pregnant women and children, on whom the vaccines have not yet been tested, and those who have a legitimate medical exemption, for example because they have had a serious allergic reaction to a vaccine in the past.
For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 020 7324 3072 or 07534 248 596.
All figures given in the fourth paragraph are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,755 adults (326 with humanist beliefs) for fieldwork undertaken in November 2020, and 1,702 adults for fieldwork undertaken in January 2021. The surveys were carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by 100,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.