Side effects, efficacy reasons for vaccine hesitancy in India

New Delhi, Dec 18 : Even as the Central government preps up to roll out the coronavirus vaccination drive soon, about 60 per cent of people are hesitant to take it due to the fear of side effects, efficacy and reduction in cases, a survey revealed on Friday.

The survey holds importance at a time when questions are being raised on both the safety and efficacy of the vaccines being developed at a phenomenal rate as the world struggles to find a silver bullet to end its pandemic woes.

The big question is, how many Indians are ready to take the vaccine?

To throw light on the issue of citizens' reluctance or hesitancy to get the vaccine, 'LocalCircles' has been collecting citizens' response to the question since October.

In a survey conducted between October 15 and 20, 61 per cent of participants expressed hesitancy in getting the vaccine.

In the passing weeks, vaccine makers - Pfizer, Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca - gave hope to the world with their success on efficacy results.

With the news, the aggregate percentage of citizens in India hesitant about the vaccine reduced by 2 per cent to 59 per cent in the survey conducted from November 23-28.

Citizens' reluctance to get the COVID-19 vaccine was compared with previously conducted surveys on the subject to understand the change over time.

In the aftermath of several developments in place and the possibility of an affordable vaccine by February 2021, LocalCircles decided to conduct another survey on the subject to understand if citizen's hesitancy levels have reduced, increased or been maintained.

The survey received more than 18,000 responses from citizens across 242 districts of India.

66 per cent respondents were men and 34 per cent were women. 55 per cent respondents were from tier 1, 26 per cent from tier 2, and 19 per cent were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts.

The first question on willingness to take the vaccine received 9,458 responses from citizens.

Of whom, four per cent said, "I am a healthcare worker and will get it on priority through the Government", while 27 per cent said, "Will wait 3-6 months after it comes to get it".

15 per cent respondents said that they will wait for 6-12 months after it comes whereas eight per cent said that they will take it in 2022 and six per cent said that they will not take it at all.

However, five per cent said that they will take it as quickly as it is available via private healthcare channels, 22 per cent said that they will take it once it is available via any healthcare channels and 13 per cent were not sure about taking it or not.

The aggregate percentage of responses indicated that 69 per cent Indians still will not rush to take the vaccine even if it is available in the near future.

The percentage of citizens hesitant was 61 per cent in October, dropped to 59 per cent in November, and rose to 69 per cent in December 2020.

From the discussion, it appears some of the key reasons for citizens to become hesitant are limited information about side-effects, efficacy levels and a growing belief in parts of the population that Covid-19 cannot infect them because of their high immunity levels.

As many as eight Covid vaccine candidates are under different stages of clinical trials which could be ready for authorization in near future, including three indigenous vaccines.

It includes AstraZeneca and Oxford university developed and Serum Institute of India manufactured Covishield, Covaxin by Bharat Biotech Limited, ZyCoV-D by Zydus Cadila, Russian vaccine candidate Sputnik-V, NVX-CoV2373 by SII, HGCO19 by Geneva, and two unlabeled vaccines-Recombinant Protein Antigen based vaccine by Biological E Limited-and Inactivated rabies vector platform by Bharat Biotech.



Source: IANS