Willingness to be vaccinated against coronavirus falling

30 July 2020
Survey conducted in seven European countries - main concern are side effects

The willingness to be vaccinated against the coronavirus had dropped to 61 per cent in June from 70 per cent in April, according to survey presented on July 13, 2020. More than 7,000 people in Germany, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Britain were interviewed for the survey led by the Hamburg Center for Health Economics (HCHE) at the University of Hamburg. Many respondents expressed concern about possible side effects.

Concern about side effects

Overall, the willingness to be vaccinated in the countries surveyed fell from 74 per cent in April to 68 per cent just two months later. Germany had the lowest level of support for the vaccination among the European countries surveyed, apart from France. "It is alarming that an increasing number of people in Germany refuse to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. And these number far more than those who generally refuse a vaccination," said Prof. Dr. Jonas Schreyögg, Scientific Director of HCHE. The majority of people in all the countries surveyed are concerned about possible side effects and the insufficient effectiveness of a possible vaccine. Every seventh person, who opposes a vaccination, does not believe that the virus is dangerous to their own health.

Information from politics and science can help

However, the study also shows that respondents who say they trust information from government, the European Union and the World Health Organization are more open to being vaccinated against coronavirus. "Politicians and scientists should talk about possible side effects as well as the effectiveness of a vaccine transparently and promote people's trust," said Schreyögg. "Across all countries, we found the highest approval among men over 55 years and those who live in a household with older people or with a person with a chronic, pre-existing condition," he added. Women across all age groups are more uncertain about being vaccinated. The willingness to be vaccinated varies from 67 per cent in north Germany to 56 per cent in the south.

Equitable distribution of a vaccine

The availability of a vaccine also raises the question of distribution. Who decides on the first recipients of a vaccine? The interviewees in all countries agree that hospitals and doctors (61, in Germany 54 per cent), the Ministry of Health (55, in Germany 47 per cent) or a national team of experts (54, in Germany 46 per cent) were best placed to make this decision contrary to a government or parliament.


Sources and further information

The survey is a co-operative project by the Hamburg Center for Health Economics at the University of Hamburg, the universities Nova School of Business and Economics (Portugal), Bocconi University (Italy) and Erasmus University Rotterdam (Netherlands). An overview of the preliminary results can be found on the HCHE website.

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