Misc 29/11/2020

70% of the Spanish population is reluctant to be vaccinated

Gender, fear, and trust in the institutions, the main conditions

Jordi Muñoz
2 min

Ub Political ScientistThe teams that have been working these months on the coronavirus vaccines have managed to develop innovative vaccines in record time, and it seems that they will have very high levels of effectiveness and safety. However, this scientific success still depends on another factor: that people do indeed get vaccinated. And this poses a major social challenge. One of the main enemies of high population immunisation is the social rejection of vaccines.

In the case of covid-19, the almost universal cooperation of the population to be vaccinated will be necessary to return to social and health normality. Paradoxically, the speed and capacity for innovation with which the scientific teams have worked may encourage scepticism and fear of the vaccine. Unfortunately, the data we have collected at the University of Barcelona with the support of the Social Observatory of La Caixa confirm this. The percentage of the population that declares that they are willing to get the vaccine as soon as it is available is barely 30%. Additionally, 14% say they will not want to be vaccinated, and 56% say they will wait for some time. This delay will prevent the restrictions from being lifted.

Therefore, beyond percentages, we must understand what favours reticence, so that the health authorities can plan appropriate information and incentive policies. The determining factors in the willingness to be vaccinated have to do with the perception of risks, both of the vaccine and of the disease itself. The probability of being willing to be vaccinated is substantially higher among people who express fear of the pandemic (+23.5 percentage points), people over 65 years of age (+8.2 points), those who believe they have a high probability of developing a severe version of covid (+6 points), and those who think that the current measures are insufficient (+6.6 points).

Trust in institutions is also an important factor. Mistrust in the authorities reduces the willingness to be vaccinated by 5.6 points, and trust in Pedro Sánchez can increase it by 15 points. Conversely, pessimism about the evolution of the pandemic is related to a lower willingness to be vaccinated (-15.8 points).

It is striking that women express a 15-point lower willingness to be vaccinated soon, after taking into account the other factors. This could be related to a greater aversion to risk, or to the fact that mortality from covid-19 has, so far, been much higher among men. Interestingly, there are no significant differences regarding the level of educational attainment.

The challenge, in any case, is big. Generating confidence in the vaccine and in the health authorities, and at the same time preventing the population from losing its fear of the virus, will possibly be the determining factors in the success of the vaccination campaign.