Study shows increase in global COVID-19 vaccine acceptance

Published: Jul. 6, 2022 at 5:46 PM EDT

NEW YORK, July 6, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- COVID-19 vaccine acceptance increased 3.7% between 2020 and 2021, according to a new study from researchers at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy (CUNY SPH), the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), the Dalhousie University and the University of Calgary.

In a June 2021 survey of over 23,000 individuals across 23 countries, the researchers found that more than three-quarters (75.2%) of respondents reported vaccine acceptance, up from 71.5% one year earlier.

The study, which was published Monday in Nature Communications, was carried out within the context of a year of substantial but very unequal global COVID-19 vaccine availability and acceptance, which necessitated new assessments of the drivers of vaccine hesitancy and the characteristics of people not vaccinated.

Concerns about vaccine safety and efficacy and mistrust in the science behind vaccine development were the most consistent correlates of hesitancy. Other factors associated with vaccine hesitancy varied by country and included personal experience with COVID-19 (e.g., sickness or loss of a family member) and demographic characteristics (e.g., gender, education, and income).

The authors found that vaccine hesitancy did not significantly correlate with a country's current COVID-19 case burden and mortality. In June 2021, vaccine hesitancy was reported most frequently in Russia (48.4%), Nigeria (43%), and Poland (40.7%), and least often in China (2.4%), the United Kingdom (UK) (18.8%), and Canada (20.8%).

"In order to improve global vaccination rates, some countries may at present require people to present proof of vaccination to attend work, school, or indoor activities and events," says CUNY SPH Senior Scholar Jeffrey Lazarus. "Our results found strong support among participants for requirements targeting international travellers, while support was weakest among participants for requirements for schoolchildren."

Support for vaccine mandates was substantially lower among those who were hesitant to get vaccinated themselves. "Importantly, however, recommendations by a doctor, or to a lesser extent by an employer, might have an impact on a respondent's views on vaccination in some countries," said CUNY SPH Dean Ayman El-Mohandes.

Although some countries are currently disengaging from evidence-based COVID-19 control measures, the disease has by no means been controlled or ended as a public health threat. The authors note that for ongoing COVID-19 vaccination campaigns to succeed in improving coverage going forward, substantial challenges remain. These include targeting those reporting lower vaccine confidence with evidence-based information campaigns and greatly expanding vaccine access in low- and middle-income countries.

Jeffrey V. Lazarus, Katarzyna Wyka, Trenton M. White, Camila A. Picchio, Kenneth Rabin, Scott C. Ratzan, Jeanna Parsons Leigh, Jia Hu & Ayman El-Mohandes. Revisiting COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy around the world using data from 23 countries in 2021. Nature Communications.

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Ariana Costakes
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