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Health: Global survey finds that vaccine acceptance is associated with trust in government

Nature

October 20, 2020

Although most people are likely to accept a future vaccine against COVID-19 if one is proven safe and efficacious, the hesitancy of those who refuse vaccination could stall global efforts to achieve community immunity, suggests a study published in Nature Medicine.

In June 2020, Jeffrey Lazarus and colleagues surveyed 13,426 people in 19 countries to see if they would accept a future vaccine against COVID-19. 71.5% reported they would be likely to take a vaccine if it were proven to be safe and effective, and 61.4% said they would get vaccinated if their employer recommended it. Regional differences were noted, with acceptance rates ranging from almost 90% (China) to 55% (Russia). Countries with high acceptance rates tended to be Asian nations with strong trust in central governments (China, South Korea and Singapore), with middle-income countries (such as Brazil, India and South Africa) trailing closely behind. People were also less likely to accept a vaccine if it were mandated, rather than recommended, by their employer, which suggests that promoting such a vaccine, rather than requiring it, might be a more effective strategy for achieving compliance. Younger people were more likely to accept a vaccine recommended by their employer, whereas men were generally less inclined to accept a vaccine than were women.

This is the first public study to specifically evaluate the global acceptability of a vaccine against COVID-19, and the authors are concerned by regionally low levels of acceptance. The reasons for this vaccine hesitancy need to be understood and addressed, or else there is a risk of delaying global control of this pandemic. The authors argue that authorities must do more than simply pronouncing a vaccine to be safe and effective. Acceptance-building strategies need to address community-specific concerns and historic issues for distrust and need to be sensitive to religious and philosophical beliefs. Governments should issue clear and consistent advice, and credible, culturally informed health communication will be key to influencing vaccine uptake, suggest the authors.

doi: 10.1038/s41591-020-1124-9

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