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Covid vaccine hesitancy in India down by 7% since Dec, 3% to wait till 2022 to decide — survey

Survey with 17,000 respondents, conducted by LocalCircles, finds side-effects and efficacy as the primary reasons behind hesitation in taking the Covid-19 vaccines.

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New Delhi: A new survey has revealed that the number of people hesitant to take the Covid-19 vaccine in India has declined from 69 per cent in December to 62 per cent in January.

LocalCircles, a community social media platform, conducted the survey from 16 to 18 January among 17,000 people in 230 districts of the country to evaluate if public acceptance of the two Covid-19 vaccines have changed.

In a similar survey conducted by LocalCircles in October last year, 61 per cent of citizens had expressed hesitancy in taking the vaccines. This number reduced to 59 per cent in the November survey, after the efficacy results of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were announced — although neither of the two are available in India.

However, after an adverse reaction was reported for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine called Covishield, and trial process-related concerns emerged with one of the Bharat Biotech partners, the number of those reluctant to take the vaccine rose to 69 per cent in December and remained that way till the first week of January.

The hesitancy rate, however, decreased by 7 per cent in the third week of January — from 69 per cent in December 2020, to 62 per cent between 16 and 18 January. The survey noted that this may be “largely due to the fact that people have watched and read about the vaccination drives kicking off in their own districts”.

Asked about their willingness or hesitation to take the vaccines, of the 8,658 responses, 32 per cent said they will take it, and 6 per cent said they will take it whenever the vaccines are made available via private hospitals/channels, while 3 per cent said they will wait more than 12 months and then decide in 2022.

Also read: Harsh Vardhan urges people to counter ‘vested campaigns’ on Covid vaccine misinformation

Concerns about side-effects

The survey asked respondents their reasons behind not wanting to take the vaccines and many of them pointed towards side-effects and efficacy as their primary concerns.

Of 8,782 responses, 59 per cent pointed to unknown side-effects as the primary reason for them to avoid taking any of the vaccines, while 18 per cent voted for “effectiveness unknown”. As many as 11 per cent citizens believed the pandemic was ending anyway and hence there was no need to take the vaccine.

A total number of 7.86 lakh healthcare workers received Covid-19 vaccines till Wednesday. More than one lakh beneficiaries were vaccinated till 6 pm that day across 20 states and Union Territories.

Also read: WhatsApp reminders, counselling, newspaper ads — how states are fighting vaccine hesitancy


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