No confidence and too busy: Why Germans don’t want to get vaccinated
German health experts and the federal government have long been trying to convince the populace to get vaccinated. However, despite their efforts, vaccination rates have plateaued, and many people still refuse to get the vaccine. A new survey has revealed why.
Coronavirus vaccinations in Germany on the decline
Coronavirus continues to plague Germany; infections are rising and there are fears that a fourth wave could seriously impact public life once again. Despite Germany’s vaccination drive, and the continued efforts of doctors, health experts and the government, vaccination rates in the federal republic have stagnated. Just over 60 percent of the German population have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, which is far below the target set by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) and not enough to offset the fourth wave that has already begun.
To try and discern why vaccination rates have slowed, researchers at the University of Erfurt, alongside the RKI and the Federal Centre for Health Education, have investigated the reasons why people are against being vaccinated. The ongoing study, known as the COSMO study (COVID-19 Snapshot Monitoring) asked unvaccinated people aged between 18 and 74 to answer certain statements or disagree on a scale from one (very low) to seven (very high).
The statements were based on five values intrinsically linked to taking the vaccine. These were:
- Confidence: How confident are you in the effectiveness and safety of the vaccination?
- Compliance: How high is the risk of illness from coronavirus and how important is the vaccination?
- Constraints: Does a vaccination require too much organisation and time?
- Calculation: How do you estimate the benefit and risk of the vaccination based on the information available?
- Sense of responsibility for the community: How high is the social motivation to be vaccinated to protect others (for example, children and sick people)?
Why the unvaccinated want to stay unvaccinated
Researchers have been able to determine the reasons why unvaccinated people do not want to get jabbed through their answers to the questions above. According to the study, 75 percent of respondents believe that getting vaccinated is unnecessary, as so many others are vaccinated already. The proportion of people who believe this has grown significantly in the last month; on August 24, only 44 percent of people thought the vaccine was unnecessary due to others being vaccinated.
People also seemed concerned with the risk of getting inoculated outweighing the benefits, with 72 percent of respondents indicating this in the COSMO survey. Again, this number has increased significantly from last month. The survey also revealed that unvaccinated people are concerned with the safety of the vaccine. According to the evaluation, 40 percent of people were worried about safety, with insufficient research, media uncertainty and unknown side effects being the main cause for such concerns.
Finally, 35 percent of respondents suggested that everyday stress, as well as the time and organisation it takes to get the vaccine, was reason enough to not get vaccinated.
Making vaccinations appealing
The results from the COSMO survey show that safety, accessibility and the benefit of getting vaccinated are among the most important factors for people when decided whether to get vaccinated. The fact that some people are deciding not to get vaccinated due to the time and effort it takes to get jabbed gives rise to the hope that some people will be swayed and decide to get inoculated during campaigns like Germany’s “vaccine action week”. The Impfaktionswoche kicked off last week and aims to make vaccines as accessible as possible.
The RKI has announced that it is aiming for an 85 percent vaccination rate among people aged between 18 and 59, and a vaccination rate of 90 percent for those aged over 60.