Understanding the societal factors of vaccine acceptance and hesitancy: evidence from Hong Kong

Bobo Hi Po Lau*, Samson Wai Hei Yuen*, Ricci Pak Hong Yue, Karen A. Grépin

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)


    Objectives: Vaccination is considered to be an important public health strategy for controlling the COVID-19 pandemic. Besides subjective evaluations of the vaccine and the health threat, societal factors have been seen as crucial to vaccination decisions. Based on a socioecological perspective, this study examines the role of societal factors in COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in Hong Kong.

    Study design and method: An online survey was fielded between 25 and 28 June 2021, collecting 2753 complete responses. Multinomial logistic regression was conducted to examine how subjective evaluations of the vaccine (summarised by the 5C model – Confidence, Collective responsibility, Constraints, Complacency and Calculation), threat perception, interpersonal influences and institutional trust contribute to explaining three types of decision – acceptant (vaccinated, scheduled or indicated ‘Yes’), hesitant (unvaccinated and indicated ‘Maybe’ on intention) and resistant (unvaccinated and indicated ‘No’).

    Results: A total of 43.2%, 21.7% and 35.1% of respondents were acceptant, hesitant and resistant. Although the 5C model remained useful in explaining vaccination decisions, respondents were heavily influenced by the decisions of their family, although they were less influenced by friends. Second, respondents tended to accept the vaccine when they had a weaker perception that the act is supportive of the government and were less resistant if they had stronger institutional trust.

    Conclusion: Under the low-incidence and low-trust environment such as Hong Kong, vaccination decisions are heavily influenced by family's decision and the perception of vaccination as socially and politically desirable. Our findings highlight the importance of a nuanced conception of interpersonal and political influence towards vaccine acceptance/hesitancy.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)39-45
    Number of pages7
    JournalPublic Health
    Early online date26 Apr 2022
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

    Scopus Subject Areas

    • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

    User-Defined Keywords

    • COVID-19
    • Hong Kong
    • Interpersonal
    • Political
    • Societal
    • Vaccine
    • Vaccine hesitancy


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