American acceptance of the COVID vaccine is growing, now as are other Western democracies

American acceptance of the COVID vaccine is growing, now as are other Western democracies

American acceptance of the COVID vaccine is growing, now as are other Western democracies

American acceptance of the COVID vaccine is growing, now as are other Western democracies

Vaccines against COVID remain the safest way to reduce the chance that SARS-CoV-2 will land you in the hospital and are a key component of the public health campaign against the pandemic. However, there has been much controversy and open anger in the US over attempts to expand the use of vaccines, and it appears that a significant portion of the population is avoiding vaccines. for political reasons.

The extreme polarization of American politics hasn’t gone away, and neither does the controversy fresh in the minds of some politicians, so it is easy to expect that vaccine hesitancy will not disappear. But an international survey of attitudes about the COVID vaccine suggests that the US has seen a large increase in acceptance of the COVID vaccine and now has attitudes similar to other Western democracies. Elsewhere in the world, research reveals clear regional patterns in vaccine acceptance, although there are oddities everywhere.

Become typical

The survey began in 2020 as a series of questions about whether people intend to get vaccines once they become available. In the years since, pollsters have added several nations (now up to 23) and shifted the questions to address vaccine availability, the addition of boosters, and the development of treatments for COVID-19. In all 23 countries, the survey included a group of 1,000 participants that broadly reflected the country’s population.

The research focuses on what’s called vaccine hesitancy, which he defines as not taking a dose if it’s available or not intending to get it when it is. Questions about vaccinations had the same form, but were specific to those who had already received vaccines.

All in all, the news is good. Globally, average vaccine hesitancy has fallen in each edition of the survey and is now just over 20 percent. That’s exactly where the US is now, with just under 20 percent indicating they didn’t receive a first chance. (This appears to be similar to the percentage of people who received at least one shot, calculated from CDC data.)

It also makes the US fairly typical of its peer group of Westernized democracies, which are typically in the 15 to 20 percent vaccine hesitancy range. Spain is on the low side, with 10 percent hesitation, but rates rise as you move east across Europe, with Sweden and Germany above 20 percent. Poland has the highest hesitation rate among European democracies, at 36 percent, perhaps influenced by neighboring Russia, where hesitation is close to 40 percent. The U.S. is now typical among this group primarily because of an increase of about 20 percent in people who reported getting vaccinated in the past year alone.

There is no clear pattern when it comes to boosters. France, where vaccination hesitancy was below 20 percent, recorded a vaccination hesitancy of over 25 percent, and Germany recorded a vaccination hesitancy of only 11 percent. So, while local factors seem to be most important here, it is clear that we cannot expect that messages that have been successful for vaccines will automatically translate to vaccinators.

Covering globe

The rest of the world is poorly represented by comparison, and the countries included mostly highlight the exceptions. For example, South American countries (Brazil, Ecuador and Peru) had a vaccine hesitancy of about 10 percent, while north of there in Mexico the hesitancy was more than twice that at 26 percent. Acceptance in East and South Asia was very high (from 11 percent hesitation in South Korea to under 2 percent in India), while it was much lower in African countries, where the best results, in Nigeria, were almost 30 percent hesitation.

In fact, South Africa has seen a 20 percent drop in vaccine uptake—the largest in the survey—and more than half of its population now expresses vaccine hesitancy. South Korea is also unusual in that, despite high levels of vaccine acceptance, 27 percent of participants there say they are hesitant about getting a booster shot, second only to Russia.

It is important to note that in many countries with a lower GDP, people are still answering this question without actually having the opportunity to be vaccinated. Fairer access to the vaccine could allow more people in these countries to get vaccinated despite their reluctance. Elsewhere, other research has identified misinformation about the vaccine, lower levels of education, and mistrust of science and government as factors driving hesitancy.

Medical education appears to be particularly effective in encouraging vaccine acceptance, with only 4.6 percent of those employed as health care workers expressing undecided – a number that is still falling.

Another thing that grows with knowledge is the willingness of parents to have their children vaccinated. Globally, this percentage has increased slightly and is now approximately 70 percent.


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