Nearly four in ten people in France, more than 25% of those in the US and 23% in Germany say they definitely or probably will not get vaccinated against Covid-19, according to a survey that underlines the challenge facing governments.
Hesitancy was markedly lower in Italy (12%), the UK (14%) and the Netherlands (17%), according to the seven-country survey, which revealed a close correlation between people’s reluctance to be vaccinated and their trust in central government.
Only 11% of US citizens and 13% of French citizens trust their governments to be a reliable source of information on vaccines, the survey, carried out last month by Kantar Public, found, compared with 30% in the Netherlands and Britain.
The study also suggested satisfaction with national vaccine rollouts was linked to vaccine acceptance and trust in government. More than 60% of UK respondents were very or somewhat satisfied with Britain’s speedy vaccination campaign, compared with only 31% in France, where the rollout is among the EU’s slowest.
Across all seven countries – France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, India, the UK and the US – family doctors and national health authorities were seen as much more reliable sources of information on vaccines, at 39% and 41% respectively.
Emmanuel Rivière, Kantar’s director of international polling, said the study revealed the scale of the communications effort some governments will need to make if they hope to improve vaccine acceptance.
“Vaccine hesitancy remains for large minorities in France, Germany and the US, where citizens can be twice or three times as likely to trust their family doctor as they are central government,” Rivière said. “This will clearly need to be reflected in governments’ campaigns.”
The popularity of national governments in Europe was unlikely to be affected by the slow pace of vaccination programmes as long as Covid-19 restrictions were in place across the continent, he said. “But if countries that have vaccinated fast start returning to normal sooner, governments could pay a price,” he said.
Social media was not widely seen as a reliable source of information on vaccines, with only 5% of respondents in Germany and 4% in Italy and the Netherlands saying they trusted vaccine claims on social networks – although India was a significant exception at 26%.
The study also showed that men are generally more likely to accept vaccination, with 74% saying they would definitely or probably get vaccinated against 69% of women, and that vaccine hesitancy is more acute in some younger age groups.
More than half of French 25-34 year-olds, and one third of Dutch 25-34 year-olds, said they would definitely or probably not get vaccinated, while across the seven countries only 32% of 18-24 year-olds said they would definitely get vaccinated.
Across all countries, health concerns were cited as the main factor in vaccine hesitancy: nearly half of respondents who said they were unlikely to get vaccinated said they were concerned by safety, while 29% said they would like more information.