Young people would be less willing to have a coronavirus vaccine than older people, a new poll has found.
Of 18-24s, 67% said they would be happy to have a vaccine for COVID-19, compared to 81% of over 65s, according to a YouGov survey of 4,302 adults.
Meanwhile, 66% of 25-49s and 70% of 50-65s said they would have the vaccine when it became available.
And 8% of those aged 18-24 said they would refuse a vaccine, while 24% said they didn’t know.
Overall, 71% of people said they would take the vaccine, compared with 10% who wouldn't and 19% who said they did not know.
The results of the survey come after it was revealed on Monday that the COVID-19 vaccine being developed at the University of Oxford is safe and induces an immune reaction.
Researchers say their tests have revealed the jab could provide double protection against coronavirus, meaning it prompts a response in both parts of the immune system.
The early-stage trial found that the vaccine is safe and causes few side effects.
While hopes are growing for a potential vaccine that would see life returning to normal, England’s chief medical officer said it should not be compulsory to take it.
He told the Commons health and social care committee that making the vaccine mandatory was not his preferred option.
“Forcing people to have vaccines does not strike me as a good answer under any circumstances,” he said.
“We may well get a vaccine that in any case protects the individual but has no benefit to society – it’s simply to protect the individual.
“In which case, it’s entirely a matter of choice as to whether someone wishes to be protected against this very potentially significant disease.”
Whitty also said he does not believe the vaccine will be available by Christmas, adding: “We are incredibly excited by and proud of what the UK has done leading the way on vaccine science here and funding vaccines elsewhere,.
“But no one should be under any illusions – the chance of us getting a vaccine before Christmas that is actually highly effective are, in my view, very low.”
Whitty’s comments came after health secretary Matt Hancock left open the option that Britons could be forced to take a coronavirus vaccine.
During a briefing in May, Hancock said the government had “not addressed” the issue yet.
He told reporters: “We will only recommend a vaccine if it is safe and that means if we get a vaccine – and I very much hope we will – and people are asked to vaccinate, then they absolutely should, because we will only do it on the basis of clinical advice that it’s safe.”
“The question of whether it’s mandatory is not one we have addressed yet.
“We are still some time off a vaccine being available. I would hope – given the scale of this crisis, the overwhelming need for us to get through this and get the country back on its feet, and the very positive impact a vaccine would have – that everybody would have the vaccine.”