Vaccine hesitancy rose in EU after pause in AstraZeneca Covid-19 shots
Vaccine hesitancy increased in the European Union after the suspension of AstraZeneca Plc’s vaccine, with more than a third of adults in the bloc indicating they were unlikely to get immunized from Covid-19.
After several EU countries suspended use of Astra’s shot in mid March, 34% of respondents to an online survey by Eurofound said they were hesitant to take the vaccine. Before the pause, 25% said they were “rather unlikely” or “very unlikely” to get it.
“These findings reflect a failure to deliver persuasive and clear communication regarding the efficacy and safety of vaccines,” Daphne Ahrendt, senior research manager at Eurofound, said in a statement Thursday. “Trust in vaccines is related to trust in institutions, and this is an issue primarily for policymakers, but we also all have a collective responsibility, across society, to ensure that we communicate and publish accurate and sound information on the safety and importance of vaccines.”
The EU’s vaccine rollout got off to a slow start and was held back by concerns over rare blood clots possibly linked to Astra’s shot. The European Medicines Agency updated its guidance in April to include the condition as a possible side effect, but has said the vaccine’s benefits still outweigh its risks. Almost 30% of the EU’s population has received at least one dose, compared with 46% in the U.S., according to Bloomberg’s Vaccine Tracker.
In the entire period of Eurofound’s survey across February and March, the vaccine hesitancy figure was 27%. Skepticism was highest in Bulgaria, with 61% of survey participants indicating misgivings, and below 10% in Denmark, Malta and Ireland. The U.K., which recently left the EU, has one of the lowest hesitancy rates in the world.