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Confidence of the unvaccinated in authorities already very low before start COVID-19 vaccinations

Published: 13th July 2022 Last updated: 13th July 2022

Those who remain unvaccinated against COVID-19 already had significantly less confidence in government authorities before the start of the vaccination campaign than people who did get a jab. However, unvaccinated people and the unvaccinated who are still undecided do not have the same thoughts and opinions on COVID-19 and vaccinations. These are the main findings of a longitudinal study among a large representative group of the Dutch adult population, commissioned by the Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sport and conducted by Centerdata and Tilburg University.

Confidence in the government

The study shows that of the adults who had not been vaccinated by December 2021 and had no intention of getting the vaccine, less than 50% had a fair to great amount of confidence in healthcare (49%), science (46%), education (45%), and the legal system (28%) before the start the vaccination campaign. Among the vaccinated, this confidence was much higher: 85% (healthcare), 83% (science), 77% (education), and 66% (legal system), respectively. Of the unvaccinated, only 17% had a fair to great amount of confidence in the Dutch government before the start of the vaccination campaign, versus 59% of the vaccinated. In all areas, unvaccinated people who are undecided occupy the middle ground between the two groups referred to above.

Many other differences

The study shows furthermore that, before the start of the vaccination campaign, the vaccine-resistant people differed in many ways from people who did get vaccinated. For instance, the first group had a lower social-economic position than the second, they were more likely to suffer from mental health problems (33% versus 17%), were more likely to experience difficulties in their work or studies due to physical or emotional problems (32% versus 20%), and were less likely to be very interested in the news (23% versus 51%). Furthermore, they knew fewer people in their own circle who had become very ill (9% versus 19%). As concerned the vaccines, among other things, they were more likely to worry about the side effects (76% versus 23%) and find vaccination to pose a risk because of their physical health (27% versus 13%).

Finally, the study found no evidence that people with pre-existing lung and heart problems were more likely to get vaccinated than others, even though they face an increased risk if they become infected with COVID-19.

The results of the study are very useful for educating the public ahead of new COVID-19 vaccination programs, for instance, as regards identifying groups that need more information, involving parties whose messages are trusted in providing information, and taking reasons not to get vaccinated seriously.

The study was conducted with the scientific longitudinal LISS panel that is based on a representative sample of the Dutch adult population (4,610 respondents). The survey of COVID-19 and vaccination was carried out in November-December 2021 and was linked to data from earlier health surveys (November 2020) and surveys on values and standards (December 2020) among the same respondents.

The present study is part of a ongoing study into the effects of this pandemic on, among other things, the mental health of the population as a whole and on subgroups like young people and victims of traumatic events.

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