A large number of Dutch people do not want to be vaccinated if a well-functioning vaccine against corona becomes available, or are still in doubt about that. This was the conclusion of a survey conducted by research agency Ipsos on behalf of Nieuwsuur.
13 percent do not want to be vaccinated and 16 percent do not know yet. Most Dutch people, seven out of ten, are therefore prepared to be vaccinated. But the question is whether a vaccination coverage of about 70 percent is enough to protect society against a new upsurge of the coronavirus.
“Better to endure than vaccinate
The most important reasons for ‘non-prickers’ not to be vaccinated are doubts about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine and fear of side effects. Almost half of them also cite considerations of principle, other than religious ones, as a reason.
A large majority (87 percent) of people who are negative about vaccinations anyway, are also unwilling to be vaccinated with a corona vaccine.
Sandra Helmus is one of them. She thinks that surviving a disease is better than vaccinating against it. The 68-year-old Christ van Eekelen, who doesn’t normally take a flu shot, lost two friends to corona and would take a vaccine:
Vaccination readiness among women (64 percent) is lower than among men (77 percent) and lower educated people doubt slightly more often than higher educated people. Supporters of the PVV and Forum for Democracy are a lot less willing to be vaccinated than others. And almost one in five young people between 18 and 34 say they do not want vaccination, twice as many as people over 55.
With a vaccination readiness of 71 percent, the Netherlands is on the international average. However, previous surveys among Dutch people showed slightly lower percentages (67 and 59 percent).
Professor Debbie van Baarle, an expert on immune mechanisms linked to the RIVM, calls the 71 percent “actually very positive”. She compares it to the flu shot: about 60 percent of the people who are invited actually take the shot.
But: whether the percentage is enough to achieve group immunity is complicated, says Van Baarle. “There are a number of factors that we have to take into account when deciding what the percentage should be. How does the virus behave, how contagious is it when the vaccine is there? And the effectiveness of the vaccine, also in different target groups.”
Side effects difficult to estimate
A higher willingness to be vaccinated would therefore be even better. Professor of communication Hedwig te Molder calls the current percentage “just on, or just enough”. Te Molder is a member of the Vaccination Alliance, which wants to increase the willingness to be vaccinated. “We have to realise that the percentage can fluctuate very quickly. The willingness to be vaccinated can suddenly decrease due to political unrest. The willingness to be vaccinated is largely determined by the relationship that citizens have with their government and, indirectly, science. “
For example, there are considerable concerns among ‘anti-prickers’ and doubters about the safety of a possible vaccine. Unnecessary, says Van Baarle. “There are very strict safety requirements that a medicine or vaccine must meet. Those procedures are followed neatly.” However, side effects are difficult to assess in the long term. “We simply don’t have the time for that.”