While Brazilians sang the hit “comes from bum bum tam tam”, by MC Fioti, to celebrate the arrival of the Covid-19 vaccine, in several countries around the world the application of the first doses has led to an increase in support immunization campaigns.
The change has been so great that in some places what was once an anti-vaccine majority has become less than a month in the minority.
This is the case in France, where 58% of the population rejected the vaccine, according to a survey carried out on December 22 and 23 by the Odoxa institute with the consulting firm Backbone for Le Figaro vehicles and Franceinfo. The survey indicated that one of the main reasons respondents gave was that “not getting vaccinated is a reasonable decision given a new disease and a new vaccine.”
On December 27, the first Frenchman received the injection against Covid-19. In the following study, with interviews on January 13 and 14, 56% were already vaccinated in the country.
“Historically, we have a great anti-vaccine movement,” explains French doctor Michaël Rochoy, epidemiology researcher at the University of Lille, citing a 2019 study in 54 countries in which France leads the ranking of the number of people who don’t trust immunizations.
“Rich countries no longer see epidemics, of course this is not the case with Covid, but the rubella epidemic was no longer and we are seeing it again because more and more people are forgetting to get vaccinated or do not want to.
The head of the epidemiology department at the University of Michigan (USA), Joseph Eisenberg, shares the French doctor’s point of view. “The big difference between Covid-19 and other infectious diseases that we have vaccines for is that people are witnessing and seeing immense mortality and serious results.”
“I think in the face of these low risks, a lot of conspiracy theories are developing and have the potential to be accepted, but when you are dealing with a devastating disease like Covid, it changes people’s opinion,” explains the American.
One of the main points of the French reluctance to vaccinate, according to Rochoy, is the speed with which they have been developed. He thinks that at least some of the people who initially say they’re afraid of the vaccine just don’t want to be the first to get the doses.
“Those who don’t want are often hesitant people, they don’t want it now because it seems too early to them and they want to see how it goes. They expect a snowball effect, but they will likely be vaccinated. “
This jump after the application of the first dose can also be observed in Spain, where the intention has increased by more than 20 points. The numbers did not start to increase until after vaccination began, also on December 27. On the 18th of this month, 52% are said to be ready to join the campaign, a number that rose to 66% on January 7 and 73% on February 5, according to a survey by the British YouGov institute.
Another impressive development has taken place in the United Kingdom, the first Western country to vaccinate its population. Also according to YouGov, on November 10, 63% of Britons expressed their intention to receive the vaccine – an already high percentage compared to European neighbors.
After the campaign launched on December 8, the number has already risen to 73% in a survey on the 14th of this month and reached 86% in the February 11 survey, the highest among the 26 countries analyzed by the institute. .
The United States has also experienced a sharp turnaround, which began even before the country’s first citizen was vaccinated on December 14. In the first Gallup Institute survey in July, 66% said they were ready for the injection, a percentage that fell to 50% in September, but reached 71% in the latest study in late January.
For University of Michigan assistant professor of epidemiology Abram Wagner, who studies vaccine reluctance, one of the main reasons for the change in opinion is that the immunizer is more tangible now. “A few months ago, people didn’t know what it was and what it would look like [a vacina]. “
Like Rochoy, the American expert points out that most people, in fact, are at a dead end between “yes” and “no”. “When I think of hesitation, I like to see a specter. Some people don’t want a vaccine and others are very pro-vaccine, ”he explains. “Most are on the fence and can go either way.”
The French doctor draws an analogy with the fire situation. “When the alarm goes off, if no one moves, people will continue to stand still, but if they leave, others will follow. But also, if no one moves and a firefighter comes in and says he has to go, people will leave quickly because he’s someone in authority.
To convince those who fear the most, Wagner explains that the process must also be facilitated. “If you have to call or go to a website, make an appointment, whoever hesitates won’t come by,” he says.
A key point is to make vaccines available in places close to people. With the arrival of AstraZeneca in France, Rochoy explains that pharmacists, for example, will be able to apply, which facilitates this availability.
There are, however, countries that see a different movement. This is the case in India, where there was a slight drop in intention to vaccinate after the campaign began on January 16. According to YouGov, on December 14, 69% of Indians were ready to receive the vaccine, but the number fell to 63% in the last survey on February 8.
In Hong Kong, where vaccination has not yet started, there has been a sharp drop in adherence, also according to the British institute. In the most recent survey, on February 1, 36% said they were ready to be vaccinated, down from 51% on December 14.
The concerns are similar to those in the West. A study by the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute found that safety, potential side effects and rapid implementation of the vaccination program were the main reasons given by respondents, according to the South China Morning Post.
William Chui Chun-ming, president of the Hong Kong Hospital Pharmacists Society, told the Chinese newspaper that the government needs to release more information about vaccines.
“His concerns about safety, efficacy and quality are fully aligned with those of the experts on the Government Vaccine Advisory Group. This is why the information is so important that it should not be provided only to specialists and medical staff, but to all residents of Hong Kong.