A survey by LocalCircles, a community social media platform, held in the last four months, has found that though most people surveyed were sceptical, quite a few had since got vaccinated against COVID-19.
Around 20 lakh front-line health workers in the country have been vaccinated since January 16, when the Central government introduced Covishield and Covaxin. However, around 55% healthcare professionals surveyed in the country wanted to defer vaccination.
LocalCircles, which began collecting responses from people to understand their views on the vaccines, said as of January 19, 62% were hesitant to be vaccinated immediately.
The organisation found that while 36% of them had taken the vaccines or would take them, 4% said they would take the vaccines whenever they were made available in private hospitals or through other channels.
While 28% respondents said they would wait for up to three months to decide, 16% wanted to wait for six and 7% said the would take up to a year. As much as 3% of those surveyed said they would decide in 2022. Only 6% of the respondents said they would not take the vaccine at all.
However, the good news is that there was a five percentile drop among the hesitant people, in just three weeks, between the first and second survey. LocalCircles did the first survey in October and the second in January. Reports of uncertainty over side-effects and efficacy of the vaccines and reports of adverse events during the trial pushed back the decision to take the vaccines. Hesitancy levels rose then, but soon after the government began the vaccination drive, the hesitancy levels fell to 62% in the first week of January, and to 60% in the week ending January 25.
One of the main reasons cited was the uncertainty about the vaccines’ side-effects. More than 50% people said they were hesitant because of the side-effects, while 14% said the uncertainty around the efficacy of the vaccines was also a reason. Around 4% believed there was no need for vaccines as COVID-19 would be gone, the report found.
Another reason for hesitancy was the non-release of phase-3 trial data for Covaxin.
A total of 17,000 responses were received from over 213 districts. Some 68% respondents were men, while 32% were women. As many as 49% respondents were from tier 1 districts and 30% from tier 2. Some 21% of the respondents were from tier 3 and 4 rural districts.