We researched the reasons why older adults in the UK choose to be vaccinated or not. This relates particularly to vaccination offered by the NHS to people aged 65 and over: influenza (flu) vaccine, pneumococcal vaccine, shingles vaccine and now also the COVID-19 vaccine.

Cartoon image of a zoom call on a laptop

We aimed to understand the many reasons behind older adults’ vaccination decisions to improve the current vaccination programme. More broadly, we hope to contribute to keeping older people fit and well. This includes understanding older adults’ views on how vaccination can help to achieve this.

The research team based at the University of Bristol conducted online focus groups to investigate why older adults choose to be vaccinated or not. The discussion groups took place online using Zoom.

Research areas

The research included people from the following local authority areas:

  • Bedford, East of England
  • Birmingham, West Midlands
  • Bradford, Yorkshire & Humber
  • Manchester, North West
  • Newcastle upon Tyne, North East
  • Newham, London
  • Tewkesbury, South West
  • Wellingborough, East Midlands
  • Wycombe, South East
  • Glasgow, Scotland
  • Perth & Kinross, Scotland
  • Cardiff, Wales
  • Pembrokeshire, Wales
  • Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon; Northern Ireland
  • Belfast City, Northern Ireland

Research timeline

  • August–December 2021 and Spring 2022: Participants sought for online focus groups
  • October–December 2021 and Spring 2022: Focus groups take place online
  • 2022-2023: Sharing research findings with the public, the research community and policy-makers.

Sharing research findings

This research has now been published in the Vaccines journal. This article is accessible to all and can be viewed here.


This project is funded by the NIHR Health Protection Research Unit in Behavioural Science and Evaluation at University of Bristol as part of a portfolio of five research projects led by Dr Hannah Christensen.

Research team

Hannah Christensen, Taru Silvonen, Joanne Coast, Yoav Ben-Schlomo, Joanna Kesten and Christie Cabral.