People who have chosen not to take the COVID-19 genetic vaccines have been labelled vaccine hesitant. One primary reason for their reluctance has been concerns about the products’ safety and efficacy. In this peer-reviewed qualitative umbrella review, the authors explored how safety concerns are addressed and reported in the scientific literature. They found safety concerns were consistently downplayed and informed consent was seen as an obstacle to vaccine uptake. By neglecting or dismissing safety concerns, researchers will never recognize there may be valid reasons for people to hesitate. Understanding these reasons is essential for informed consent and ethical public health policies.