Overall rates of vaccines acceptance have increased from 63% to 66% in a single month, according to Cigna International Markets' (Cigna) second edition of its COVID-19 vaccine perception study, which surveyed over 13,000 people across 11 markets.
Vaccine acceptance and perception of safety are improving
Improvements in vaccine acceptance were seen in China, Singapore, Thailand and Spain. The ongoing successful rollout of vaccines means that overall, six out of 10 respondents now believe the vaccine will be available to them, a month on month increase of 2%.
This month’s data also shows that 55% of respondents now believe COVID-19 vaccines are safe. This is driven in part by the increased number of people who have already been vaccinated — across the 11 markets studied, one in four people who we surveyed have now received at least one shot.
“With global vaccine rollout progressing well, the report indicates that there is much to be positive about. Social acceptance plays an important role in trust, so being vaccinated, or knowing someone who has been vaccinated, leads to more positive views of the vaccine. Eighty-three percent of those vaccinated trust COVID-19 vaccines are safe, whereas only 46% of those unvaccinated feel the same. Challenges remain, but the improved perception around vaccines and their safety should be welcomed,” said Cigna International Markets president Jason Sadler.
However, several markets still face issues regarding perceptions of vaccine safety. In South Korea for example, just 32% of respondents agreed the COVID-19 vaccines available are ‘very safe’, this compared to 80% in the UK and 78% in the UAE. The other markets where concerns about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines remain high include Taiwan, Thailand and Hong Kong, all of which had less than 40% of respondents agreeing they are safe.
Cigna said that to communicate the facts about safety effectively and encourage vaccine uptake, it is critical the authorities in these markets target their public information campaigns through the most trusted channels in their respective markets to have the greatest impact.
Myth busting social media
Throughout the pandemic, misinformation on social media has created obstacles to the successful handling of the pandemic and the vaccine rollout. However, Cigna’s study showed that only 5% of the respondents consider social media to be the most trusted source of information, despite the vast majority being social media users.
Social media falls behind government bodies, family doctors, private healthcare providers and TV news and documentaries. Although in the 18-34 age bracket social media is the fourth most trusted source, for the over 35s it falls to the seventh most trusted source. There is a marked difference between generations on this, with 7% of 18–34-year-old saying it is their most trusted source, while in the over 55s this number falls to just 2%.
Commenting on the research, Cigna International Markets Americas medical officer Dr Daniel Ober said, “Our research shows people increasingly understand and trust COVID-19 vaccines. We know that vaccination is a critical part of ending this pandemic. The science demonstrates the overwhelming effectiveness of vaccines to prevent severe COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and even death. Getting vaccinated is the most important thing for us to do, not just for ourselves, but for those we love. Our advice is clear, get vaccinated as soon as you can!”