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Investigators stressed that governments, public health officials, and other non-governmental organizations should aim to build trust in a COVID-19 vaccine.
Results of a survey from the City University of New York Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy (CUNY SPH) showed that acceptance rates of a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine varied widely among populations; individuals who reported higher levels of trust in information from their government were more likely to accept a COVID-19 vaccine.
According to the researchers, whose study was published in Nature Medicine, governments, public health officials, and advocacy groups should prepare for an onslaught of hesitancy and even criticism from the public concerning the COVID-19 vaccine: “Anti-vaccination activists are already campaigning in multiple countries against the need for a vaccine, with some denying the existence of COVID-19 altogether,” the researchers wrote.
The survey was based on data collected with the previously validated COVID-SCORE survey, which included a sample of more than 13,400 individuals from 19 countries that make up about 55% of the global population, and that have been hit hard by the virus.
A total of 71.5% of participants said that they would be very or somewhat likely to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, and 61.4% said that they would follow their employer’s recommendation to be vaccinated.
When asked if they would take a proven, safe, and effective vaccine for COVID-19, participants from China demonstrated the highest proportion of positive responses and the lowest proportion of negative responses, in which 88.6% of responses were positive (631 out of 712) and 0.7% were negative (5 of 712). Respondents from Poland showed the highest proportion of negative responses, with 27.3% responding negatively. Participants from Russia offered the lowest proportion of positive responses, with 54.9%, or 373 of 680 individuals, who responded positively.
Among the total number of respondents, 31.9%, or 4286 of 13,426 completely agreed that they would accept a vaccine if it were recommended by their employer and was approved as being safe and effective by the government. A total of 17.9% (2411 of 13,426) somewhat or completely disagreed.
The survey results also demonstrated that, overall, those between the ages of 25 and 54 years old, 55 and 64 years old, and above the age of 65 were more likely to accept a COVID-19 vaccine than those between the ages of 18 and 24.
As for limitations of the study, the researchers explained that an individual’s reporting of their willingness to get vaccinated may not be a good indicator of acceptance, since the decision to get vaccinated has many factors and could change over time.
However, “the far-from-universal willingness to accept a COVID-19 vaccine is a cause for concern…Unless and until the origins of such wide variation in willingness to accept a COVID-19 vaccine is better understood and addressed, differences in vaccine coverage between countries could potentially delay global control of the pandemic and the ensuing societal and economic recovery,” investigators wrote.