By: Nikita Kochhar
February 17 2023
Most people in the U.K. were not eligible for the autumn booster; therefore, it is incorrect to say they refused to get the dose.
A now-deleted post which originally circulated on Facebook on January 24 and shortly thereafter, claims that the masses no longer trust the COVID-19 vaccines in the U.K. The post states that 50 million people in the U.K. took the first COVID jab, while 19.2 million refused it, and claims that 17 million agreed to get the fifth and the sixth doses administered between September 5, 2022, and January 23, 2023. The post further states that this data is "important and encouraging" because the numbers have flipped completely. The post also carries a photo of a National Health Service (NHS) data table on the number of people who have taken an autumn booster dose. However, the claim is misleading.
The autumn booster dose on the NHS chart in the post is the third vaccine dose, or any thereafter administered in England on or after September 5, 2022. The time between two jabs is usually 84 days or more.
According to data available on the U.K. government's website, 53.81 million people had received their first dose of the COVID vaccine as of September 11, 2022, close to what the user claims. However, when adding up the official number of vaccinated people (53.81 million) and the 19.2 million figure of people who, according to the Facebook user, refused the jab, the number (73 million) far exceeds the current U.K. population (67 million) estimated by the Office for National Statistics as of mid-2021. Further, the 19.2 million figure of unvaccinated people appear inflated because, according to the Office for National Statistics, over 9 in 10 people aged 12 years and above in the U.K. have received one dose of the vaccine.
The actual difference between the U.K. population and the number of people taking the first dose by September 2022 is roughly 13 million, not 19 million. However, the 13 million figure also includes the infant population (six months to four years), who were not eligible in the first stretch of vaccinations, as the appropriate dose was only approved by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) on December 6, 2022.
Further, the post claims that the numbers have done a complete flip compared to 2022, and only 17 million are saying yes instead of no, whereas the remaining 50 are saying no. This claim is misleading, considering only a few people in the U.K. were eligible for the autumn booster dose. The dose was offered to only immunocompromised people, pregnant women, and those over 50. The majority (around 87 percent) of those who had an autumn booster were 50 years or older.
A smaller section of the U.K. population was eligible for the autumn vaccine booster dose. It would be incorrect to say that fewer people opted for it than the number of people who took the first dose. Therefore, we have marked this claim as misleading.