1 in 3 working-age adults in France could reject Covid-19 vaccine: Survey
In France, where vaccine skepticism, in general, is high, nearly one in three working-age adults were outright opposed to being vaccinated against Covid-19
London: In France, where vaccine skepticism, in general, is high, nearly one in three working-age adults were outright opposed to being vaccinated against Covid-19 when they participated in a survey after the first wave of the pandemic in the country.
The research published in the journal The Lancet Public Health, showed that more than two-thirds of people could accept a vaccine depending on its characteristics, with their decision based largely on its effectiveness and country of origin.
The authors of the new study surveyed a representative sample of nearly 2,000 adults in France aged 18-64 years using a two-part online questionnaire.
The first section sought background information such as participants' past vaccination behaviour and their risk of having a severe case of Covid-19.
In the second part, participants selected from a range of options relating to scenarios involving several hypothetical vaccines.
Analysing survey responses using a behavioural model enabled researchers to distinguish between people who would accept a vaccination with certain characteristics (known as vaccine hesitancy) and those who would always refuse one -- a distinction that is usually not explored using opinion poll data.
"We used a study design that allowed us to separate people into two groups: those who will accept vaccination depending on its characteristics, and those who would always refuse one. This information is important for designing mass vaccination campaigns because it shows how sensitive uptake is to the design of the campaign," said Verity Watson of the University of Aberdeen in Britain.
The authors found that nearly one third of the French working-age population would refuse any Covid-19 vaccine.
Among participants who would not outright refuse a vaccine, hesitancy mainly depended upon the effectiveness of vaccines and the country where they were made.
"Like France, the majority of the population in most high-income countries is made up of working-age people, which means that reaching herd immunity through a mass vaccination campaign can only be achieved if they are willing to take part," said Michael Schwarzinger of Bordeaux University Hospital, France.
"Our findings suggest that vaccine hesitancy, alongside other factors including limited vaccine supplies and the emergence of new Covid-19 strains, continues to pose major challenges to getting the pandemic under control."
Based on their findings, the authors recommend that mass vaccination strategies in France would be most successful if they use vaccines with robust evidence of high levels of effectiveness and emphasise the collective benefits of herd immunity.
While the study was conducted in France, it highlights potential hurdles that widespread distrust of new vaccines could pose to a vaccine rollout strategy to achieve herd immunity.
The authors also noted that the study was undertaken before the development of highly effective vaccines, which may have altered people's attitudes.
To date, three Covid-19 vaccines have been approved for use in the European Union.
Reaching herd immunity - when upwards of 60 per cent of a country's population is immune due to infection or vaccination -- will likely involve the need for mass vaccination, as physical distancing measures aim to prevent people from becoming infected.
One of the hardest hit countries in Europe, France has so far registered over 3,310,496 coronavirus cases and 77,743 deaths.