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expert reaction to preprint on public attitudes to booster doses

A preprint, an unpublished non-peer reviewed study, looks at public attitudes to COVID-19 booster vaccinations and influenza vaccines.


Dr Ben Kasstan, a medical anthropologist at the University of Bristol, said:

“The findings from the study raise opportunities but also further questions. As winter approaches, the NHS will need to respond to the challenge of protecting the population against COVID-19 outbreaks and seasonal flu to avoid over-burdening healthcare services. Healthcare professionals should be prepared to address the kinds of questions and concerns flagged by the study, especially about receiving multiple vaccinations (for COVID-19, for flu). The issue of receiving vaccines for COVID-19 and seasonal flu is not too dissimilar to the kinds of questions that arise around receiving multiple childhood vaccinations, so perhaps there are lessons there to learn about normalising routine vaccinations for adults.

“Public questions and concerns about a new vaccination programme should not come as a surprise and clear messaging about the importance of ‘booster’ vaccines is important. Yet, the dataset draws on a total of 21 people across the UK, and interviews were conducted in July 2021 – long before COVID-19 ‘booster’ vaccinations had been approved and made available in the UK. The results are therefore anticipated and we do not know how people’s vaccination decisions will change as the pandemic continues, and as more jurisdictions rely on vaccination status for travel and tourism. More research is needed to learn from the diversity of responses and to effectively inform vaccination delivery strategies.” 


Dr Peter English, Retired Consultant in Communicable Disease Control, Former Editor of Vaccines in Practice, Immediate past Chair of the BMA Public Health Medicine Committee, said:

“This research shows how important it is that we get the messaging right about booster vaccine doses for Covid-19. These doses are about far more than just a way for people to “extend their immunity”.

“Booster doses dramatically decrease the chances, not only that you will be seriously ill or die; but also that you will be infected at all. And, if you’re not infected, you cannot then pass the disease on to others, and you cannot get Long Covid.

“Booster doses really do reduce the risk to the population, reducing hospital admissions and the strain on the health service; reducing complications and Long Covid; and reducing transmission, so that those who are not or cannot be protected through vaccination are indirectly protected.”



‘Public attitudes to COVID-19 ‘booster vaccinations and influenza vaccines: A qualitative focus group study’ is a preprint by Simon N Williams, available on PsyArXiv



All our previous output on this subject can be seen at this weblink:



Declared interests

Dr Peter English: “Dr English is on the editorial board of Vaccines Today: an unpaid, voluntary, position.  While he is also a member of the BMA’s Public Health Medicine Committee, this comment is made in a personal capacity.  Dr English sometimes receives honoraria for acting as a consultant to various vaccine manufacturers, most recently to Seqirus.”

None others received.

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