Currently, 15.2 percent of German adults have not even had their first COVID vaccination. A long-term study has recently investigated why some Germans do behave in this way.
Researchers from the University of Erfurt surveyed around 1,200 unvaccinated and 2,000 vaccinated people in Germany. Here is a summary of the findings:
- 74% of the unvaccinated definitely do not want to be vaccinated against Corona
- 6% are willing to get vaccinated
- 37 percent of those who have not been vaccinated against Corona do not want to be vaccinated against anything
- thus, about two-thirds of them are not principled vaccination refusers.
The researchers also asked the unvaccinated Germans about their reasons for deciding against vaccination:
- 56% of the unvaccinated are afraid of vaccination
- 64% of these people cite fear of vaccination consequences and side effects as their reason
- 8% are even afraid of dying from the vaccination
- 38% of the unvaccinated agree with the statement, “I am proud not to have been vaccinated against Covid-19”, while 60% of the vaccinated agree with the sentence “I am proud to be vaccinated against Covid-19.” Unvaccinated people also have much less trust in the federal government and the Robert Koch Institute than vaccinated people.
- 86% of the unvaccinated Germans find the current debate unfair, arrogant, and moralizing.
Based on these findings, the researchers recommend that measures to combat the pandemic should focus above all on maintaining the trust of the majority of those who have been vaccinated. The researchers also advise that attention should be paid to respectful and factual communications, especially by VIPs.
Personally, I find the notion that 56% of the unvaccinated are afraid of vaccination the most interesting finding here. It means we need to communicate the safety aspect much better than we have managed so far. As there is good reason to believe that many of the unvaccinated people are proponents of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) – see for instance here and here – a reasonable strategy should probably include making sure that SCAM practitioners inform their patients correctly and responsibly.
How can this be done?
I am not sure that I know the answer. But I know that there are psychologists who specialize in this sort of thing. It would, I think, be wise to create a multidisciplinary team to tackle the problem. Any solutions that could come out of such an exercise would come too late for the current Omicron wave. But there will be more to come, and we should be better prepared, I feel.