Why do some Belgians refuse to get vaccinated?
Key highlights of the study
- Most Belgians have a positive attitude towards the vaccination or are willing to get vaccinated (around 85% in total);
- Almost half of the unvaccinated do not intend to be vaccinated in the future.
- Most refusers do so out of fear of side effects and because they do not trust the information provided by the media.
The research set up by Sapience, in collaboration with VUB, aimed at revealing how Belgian citizens perceive the vaccination against Covid-19 and what really drives their decision to be vaccinated or not.
The study shows that most Belgians believe that the vaccine is effective in lowering the risk of contracting the Covid-19 and that vaccination is the best way to return to a pre-pandemic lifestyle.
Yet, around one third of the Belgian population has serious concerns about the side effects of the vaccine. Some of these concerns relate to the perception that the vaccine has not been tested enough experimentally and that it can cause severe health issues, such as thrombosis and fetal problems.
While these are emotional reasons for vaccination hesitancy, other factors relate to the distrust towards the traditional media, the strategy of the government, and the overall health system and the pharmaceutical sector.
“With our research we know what is behind this vaccination hesitancy in different target groups. The insights we collect will provide policy makers with key information to effectively tackle resistances and strengthen Governmental plans to fight against the current pandemic”, said Dr Davide Rigoni, CEO at Sapience.
The questionnaire set up by Sapience in collaboration with VUB aimed at revealing how people perceive the vaccination and what really drives their decision to be vaccinated or not.
“Since the start of the pandemic - says Prof Timothy Desmet, co-CEO at Sapience- we have seen a dichotomy in the population, there is an ingroup which is in favor of the vaccines, and an outgroup, which is against the vaccine. Through this study, we understand both groups and what drives them much better. After this, we will investigate how unvaccinated people can be convinced to still be vaccinated”.
The study also shows that clearly stopping vaccines in certain countries has seriously damaged confidence in vaccines and undermined vaccine readiness in Belgium. Therefore, to effectively proceed with the vaccination programs there is need to extend the scope of the survey to all EU citizens, by assessing people’s hesitancy towards Covid-19 vaccines across all the member states.