Focus (English version)

Public attitudes
towards Covid-19 vaccines

TORONTO – Given the importance of achieving high vaccine coverage to mitigate the impacts of Covid-19, the effectiveness to do so will depend on the number of people willing to get vaccinated. So far, the numbers do not seem overwhelming.

People’s attitudes towards vaccines vary based on a number of factors including their concerns, their values and their lifestyles. GWI (GlobalWebIndex), a company providing market research and insight to agencies around the world, collected research data from various countries to gauge public perception towards the Covid-19 vaccine.

According to data released at the end of 2020, results suggest 66% of respondents support getting a Covid-19 vaccine. Individuals in this category were more positive and open-minded with just over two-thirds (68%) being city-dwellers. Also, more than half of those in the group (52%), are college educated.

GWI collected survey data from eight countries: Brazil, China, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, UK and the US. Although Canada was not included, the results may be fairly similar. Comparable studies show 60% of Canadians are ready and willing to get vaccinated as soon as it is their turn.

However, to achieve herd immunity, experts believe this rate should be higher. Some experts estimate between 70-80% of the population will require vaccination to provide signifi cant community protection against Covid-19.

Logistically, it has been a challenge to roll-out the vaccines and get them into the arms of people. Changing peoples’ attitudes towards vaccines is a whole other issue.

While the greatest vaccine concern among the entire study group remains potential side-effects, data shows that twelve percent (12%) of the group are “vaccine-hesitant”. Those in this category tend to feel more cautious, anxious and not sure if they will get the vaccine. Less than half of this group (45%) have a college degree and are more likely to live in suburban settings.

Another class of individuals in the data set are those who feel “obligated” to get the vaccine. In this case, people said they will get vaccinated only if required for work or travel reasons. This group represents 11% of respondents, a rate that mirrors those who are skeptical of vaccines.

Eleven percent (11%) of the study group responded they will not get a covid-19 vaccine. Germany had one of the highest refusal rates, 24%. Data suggests roughly one out of every four people in the country will not get inoculated with the Covid-19 vaccine.

This “vaccine-skeptical” group tends to be more concerned with the speed of the vaccine development. Some believe vaccines were produced too quickly and question whether they are safe. Moreover, they express a lack of faith in the scientific process of “this particular” vaccine. The majority of people in this category tend to live in rural areas and are less likely to have a college degree.

The “anti-vaxxers” are only a small sub-section of those who are skeptical of vaccines. They represent roughly one-tenth (13%) of the broader group and are opposed to vaccinations as a whole.

Covid-19 has severely disrupted societies and economies worldwide. Now that multiple vaccines are available and being administered globally, perhaps a greater emphasis is needed on conveying the appropriate messages to address people’s fears and concerns.

Although various studies and clinical trials suggest between 60-95% efficacy for the vaccines approved for use, the common denominator for all people is the concern about the potential side effects.

Clear and consistent communication by government officials and medical experts is crucial to building public trust in vaccine programs.

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