Nearly 70% Indians unwilling to take Covid vaccine

37

Dhaka, Dec 18: At least 69 per cent of Indians are hesitant to take a vaccine against the novel coronavirus, a study conducted this month by LocalCircles has found. This number has increased from October, when 61 per cent said they were reluctant to take the shot.

LocalCircles, a community social media platform, surveyed more than 18,000 people from 242 districts across the country. Of the respondents, 66 per cent were men and 34 per cent women. The first study was conducted between October 15 and 20, while the second was done from December 10 to 15.

“Covid-19 vaccine is likely to be available from February 2021 via government and private channels. If that happens, we wanted to understand citizens’ approach towards taking this vaccine,” Sachin Taparia, the founder of LocalCircles, said.

Taparia also said the key reasons for the hesitancy were the limited information about side-effects, efficacy levels, and a growing belief that one would not be infected with the disease due to high immunity levels.

The average daily caseload from around Diwali in mid-November to mid-December has declined from 50,000 cases a day to 25,000. This is also a reason to explain the unwillingness, Taparia said.

Taparia suggested government measures to curb fake news on vaccines. “Governments need to keep citizens updated at every step about vaccine trial results, both about successes and adverse events. With high penetration of social media, the risk of fake information going viral is high,” Taparia said, adding that authentic and timely information could play a role in converting people into “vaccine champions.”

In a separate independent survey of healthcare professionals, 45 per cent said they were willing to take the vaccine as soon as it was made available, while 55 per cent comprised of workers who would either defer vaccination or hadn’t yet decided what to do.

The study, coordinated by Dr Abdul Ghafur to understand health workers’ attitudes towards Covid vaccination, received 1,424 responses. “The findings reveal significant concerns and suggest potential solutions,” Dr Ghafur said.