Vaccination against Covid-19 is one of the most important measures for the return of normal life. However, the success of the vaccination campaign is not guaranteed. According to the vaccination status in mid-June, the vaccination rate might remain at 75-79%, depending on the decision of those who are still reluctant. The target is a vaccination rate of 80-85%.
But what are the main motivations for getting vaccinated (or not), and how can the hesitancy about getting vaccinated be tackled?
To answer this question, François Erner, our Chief Innovation Officer, and his team conducted a study in mid-June 2021 that mixed a traditional survey and the observation of internet browsing. The study was conducted between 14 and 18 June 2021, among a representative sample of the French population.
Vaccination against Covid-19 is a specific case. The vaccine has been developed in record time, using new vaccine technologies, intended for global implementation (simultaneously) and on which rests exclusively (or almost exclusively) the hope of a return to life as it was before. This creates a gap between the attitude towards the Covid vaccine and a general opinion about vaccinations. Based on their attitudes toward the Covid vaccine and their confidence in vaccines in general, 4 distinct groups of people were identified.
Citizens: Citizens have confidence in vaccinations in general and have received the anti-covid vaccine or wish to receive it. They represent 54.6% of the population. They are mostly men, with an over-representation of people over 55, people in higher social categories, retired people and people with incomes of over €4,500. They are more informed than the average about Covid-19 and the vaccine. They also have an individual interest in being vaccinated: it is within this group that we find a higher proportion of people with comorbidities.
The anti-vaxxers: This group are quite the opposite of the citizens. They view vaccinations with distrust, which also applies to the covid vaccination. They have not been vaccinated and do not want to. The antivaxxers represent 20% of the French population. Most of this population are women (65.1%), with children and with lower-than-average incomes and education levels. These are the heavy users of social networks who are, for example interested in documentaries about adjuvants such as “Hold up”. This group is rather young with the least comorbidity factors. Within this population, we can see two complementary logics that explain the non-vaccination: they neither want nor need to be vaccinated.
Opportunists: They are wary of vaccinations but have received the anti-covid vaccine/want to receive it. They represent 17.7% of the population. Like the antivaxxers, this group is slightly more represented by females, slightly less educated and has a lower income. But they are older and have more comorbidities. Their individual interest in protecting themselves against Covid-19 is thus stronger than their ideological opposition to vaccination.
The prevented: They generally trust vaccinations but are not vaccinated against Covid-19 and do not wish to be – 7.7% of the population can be considered as the prevented. But where does this discrepancy between their general opinion about vaccinations and the covid vaccine? The most like explanation would be that the individual benefit or the vaccine is less present in the prevented group. They are younger and more geographically isolated, which limits the risk of infection. Furthermore, the highest proportion of people who are already immunised is found among those who are prevented. The need for the vaccine is therefore less urgent.
The study reveals three key learnings:
- Not everyone who is not vaccinated should be treated as a obscurantist. There can be various reasons for refusing vaccination, but they should not be reinforced by insulting accusations.
- There are indeed good reasons not to be vaccinated, typically based on an individual assessment of the risk-benefit ratio.
- It seems that individual interest is no less important than collective issues when it comes to vaccination. In other words, to sway the reluctant, it is imperative to focus on their individual interest.