kENUP Foundation: Vaccine Skepticism in Germany Multiplies With Novel COVID Vaccines
The first representative study of COVID-19 vaccine skeptics, conducted by kENUP Foundation, the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences and the EIB Institute, identified the socioeconomic and consumer behavior profile, as well as the dominant values and positions of COVID-19 vaccines skeptics and examined potential strategies to increase willingness to get a COVID-19 vaccine in that cohort.
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Most over- and underrepresented characteristics of vaccines skeptics (Graphic: kENUP Foundation)
Overall, 19.6% of the German population make up the COVID-19 vaccine skeptic group, those unlikely or very unlikely to take the jab once offered to them. Almost 84.2% of that group were not opposed to vaccines before the corona crisis. This means that 13.7 million new skeptics are contributing to the high COVID-19 anti-vaccine sentiment.
COVID-19 vaccine skepticism is mainly driven by the fear of long-term damage (66.0%), the fast approval process (54.7%) and fear of adverse health effects (53.0%). It correlates with corona virus denial: 21.7% of vaccine skeptics and 36.8% of long-term anti-vaccinationists disagree that COVID-19 causes serious health problems. Denial of the virus infecting many people worldwide is 21.8% and 40%, respectively for new skeptics and long-term anti-vaccinationists.
While 69.3% of all vaccine skeptics could be convinced to take the COVID-19 vaccine through factual assurances, 69.4% of long-term anti-vaccinationists state that nothing would convince them. On the assurances needed for attitudinal change within the overall cohort, exclusion of long-term damage (52.0%), proven effectiveness (40.8%) and the evidence that genes are not changed (32.0%) top the list. Also, neither celebrity endorsement nor prospects of long-distance travel are convincing skeptics to be vaccinated. Vaccine skeptics seem to have more trust in vaccines originating from Germany, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Vaccines from Russia, China and especially India have a low chance of approval by skeptics.
A prevailing lack of life meaning and political participation defines the cohort of vaccine skeptics: 89.2% feel that they have no influence over politics. Of the long-term anti-vaccinationists, 35.2% express existential fears and financial worries, with life lacking any perspective for 35.6% of them. In terms of political affiliation, the anti-vaccination group is predominantly AfD-leaning (43.0%, far-right), with support of FDP (liberal) and Die Linke (left) also over-represented, while affinity to SPD (centre-left), CDU/CSU (centre-right) and Die Grünen (green) remains significantly underrepresented. Anti-vaccination sentiments are much higher in people of non-Christian religions.
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