Majority of unvaccinated in Spain doubt vaccine safety

by Lorraine Williamson

MADRID – Despite the fact that the vaccination rate is high in Spain, there is a group of people who do not want to get vaccinated. However, it is not always about conspiracy theorists or deniers of the coronavirus. Therefore, experts consider it of great importance to find out the motivation of unvaccinated. 

If the motivation is known, this group could be convinced more specifically of the importance of vaccination in reducing the number of hospitalisations and deaths from Covid-19, say experts from Instituto de Salud Carlos III in Madrid. 

Vaccine developed too quickly 

To this end, this institute conducted an online survey in October among 2,312 respondents who had not (yet) been vaccinated. This shows that the greatest concern among this group is the risks of the vaccine to their own health. In the survey, 72% indicated that “the short period in which the vaccines have been developed, the safety of the vaccine and the experimental phase the vaccines are still in” are the main reasons for remaining unvaccinated.

Small percentage of conspiracy theorists and virus deniers 

A second important motivation, cited by nearly half of those surveyed, is the suspicion that vaccines are bad for health. And also the potentially harmful side effects. Leaving aside the health risks and doubts about the time taken to develop the vaccines, more than 40% of respondents say that “the vaccines are purely commercial”, “are ineffective” or “not necessary for good own health”. But 12.3% see a conspiracy theory behind the vaccination campaign or deny the existence of the coronavirus. 

The study also surveyed people who had received the first but not the second vaccination. 44% of this group indicated that they had many side effects after the first injection; 22% said they had had Covid-19 after the first shot. 

Vaccination rate lowest among people in their thirties 

On December 14, just before the start of the vaccination campaign for children, 79.54% of the entire population in Spain had been vaccinated; 81.22% of the entire population had had at least one shot. However, looking at the different age categories, the vaccination rate is lowest among people in their thirties. Also, around 20% of all people in their thirties have not been vaccinated. 

When asked about the willingness to be vaccinated in the future, 59.4% answered with certainty that they would not. 7.9% indicate that they do have that intention; 32.8% do not know yet. Of the 40% doubters, 60% say they will be vaccinated if the vaccines have proven to be safe over time; 23.6% would do so if they were allowed to choose the vaccine themselves and 16% would choose the vaccine to travel. 9.1% of the doubters are still waiting for better, safer and more sustainable vaccines. 

Vaccine refusers see fewer risks from coronavirus 

Apart from motivation, the study also brings up other data about the group of unvaccinated people. For example, they see fewer risks from the pandemic, they observe the precautions less strictly and they have less knowledge about the virus than the average population. 

64% of them do not use a face mask when recommended, versus 95% of the entire population. They also ventilate less (59% versus 94%), wash their hands less often (47% versus 90%), stay away from crowded places less often (40% versus 85%), observe social distancing less often (37% versus 87%) and they are less likely to avoid social encounters with friends or family (15% versus 69%). 

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