Data from YouGov’s COVID-19 tracker shows that perceptions of vaccine safety are also improving
Since December 2020, YouGov has been tracking public attitudes towards vaccination across Europe, the Americas, APAC, and the Middle East.
Looking at four of our international markets reveals some significant changes in sentiment during the initial phase of the vaccine rollout across the UK, the US, Germany, and France.
Between mid-December 2020 and early March 2021, willingness to take a COVID-19 vaccine increased in each nation – with the exception of the US, where it rose by four percentage points between December and early February before dropping seven percentage points by early March 2021.
In countries such as the UK, willingness to take the vaccine saw small growth from a high baseline: three-quarters of the public (77%) said they would take the vaccine in December, rising to four-fifths (81%) in March. In Germany and particularly France, however, willingness was significantly lower at first – before rapidly growing over the next few months. December 2020 saw nearly three in five Germans (58%) saying they would take a COVID-19 jab when available, rising to nearly seven in ten (68%) by early March 2021.
France has seen the lowest levels of vaccine willingness by some distance. In December, just over a quarter of the public (27%) said they would take a COVID-19 vaccine – though this did nearly double by March, when over half of the public said they would be willing to get the jab for the first time (52%).
Vaccine scepticism has been a high-profile issue in France in recent months, which some commentators have attributed to the spread of disinformation, distrust of the government, and President Macron’s comments about the AstraZeneca vaccine – among other things.
The effects of this can also be seen in the public’s attitudes towards vaccine safety. As with willingness to get the vaccine, the perception that the vaccine is safe has grown – and in France, it has grown dramatically, rising from a third (32%) of the public to just over half (53%) while still remaining lower than in other markets.
The UK has seen the proportion of the public who think the vaccine is safe rise by ten percentage points (74% December; 84% March), while Germany (56% December; 67% March) and the US (61% December; 68% March) have seen similar improvements. In some of these markets, the proportion of people who think the vaccine is safe exceeds the proportion who are willing to have the jab – suggesting other factors may be at play.
And in similarly good news for future vaccine uptake, more people want the vaccine sooner, rather than later. The proportion who said they want the vaccine “as soon as possible” increased in all four countries: rising by six percentage points in the UK (57% December; 63% March); five points in the US (39% December; 44% March); 18 points in Germany (34% December; 52% March) and 20 points in France (16% December; 36% March).
The increasing sense of urgency may have something to do with the fact that the majority of the public remained unvaccinated at the time they were polled. Data from early March 2021 indicated that 60% of the UK public, 75% of Americans, 93% of the French public, and 95% of Germans were yet to receive either the first or second dose of the vaccine.
The data is based on interviews of adults aged 18 and over in four markets. All interviews were conducted online in December 2020 - March 2021. Data from each market uses a nationally representative sample.
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