COVID-19 Vaccinations Increased 5.2% This Year. Where Are They Still Lagging?

Good news: across 23 countries, trust in COVID-19 vaccines increased 5.2% from 2021 to 2022. However, vaccine hesitancy remains in key populations.

Good news: across 23 countries, trust in COVID-19 vaccines increased 5.2% from 2021 to 2022. However, vaccine hesitancy remains in key populations.

Acceptance of COVID-19 vaccines is on the rise.

A new study, conducted by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), found that uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine has increased worldwide. The survey was conducted in 23 countries, representing more than 60% of the global population.

The surveyed countries had all been hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic: Brazil, Canada, China, Ecuador, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Poland, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.

A total of 23000 individuals were surveyed, 1000 from each country. Of the respondents, 50.3% were women, and 22.2% had a university degree. The participants were divided into 5 age groups (8–29, 30–39, 40–49, 50–59, and 60+ years), and all age groups were equally represented. Broken down by income, 45.6% made more than their country’s median salary, and 10.8% were healthcare workers.

These vaccine acceptance data reflect the third and most recent survey, conducted in June and July 2022. Notably, by the end of this study, 66.4% of the world’s population had received at least 1 dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. However, in low-income countries, only 17.4% of individuals had received a COVID-19 shot.

In the last year, 36.6% of survey respondents reported a COVID-19 infection in either themselves or their families. Of those who contracted symptomatic COVID-19, 24% reported taking a medication.

The percentage of respondents who had received at least 1 dose of a COVID-19 vaccine was 79.1% in 2022, an increase of 5.2% year-over-year (75.2% in 2021).

However, the general upward trend in vaccinations is far from the whole story.

Support for vaccinating children increased overall (67.6% in 2021 to 69.5% in 2022), but declined among parents who had not received a COVID-19 vaccine.

In 8 countries, vaccine hesitancy actually increased. This rise in vaccine apprehension ranged from 1.0% in the United Kingdom to 21.1% in South Africa.

Nearly 1 in 8 (12.1%) vaccinated survey respondents were hesitant to receive a booster shot. Young men and women, specifically, reported more COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy.

Vaccine hesitancy was found to be more common in men in Nigeria and Peru, and women in China, Poland, and Russia. Not having a university degree in France, Poland, South Africa, Sweden and the United States also decreased the likelihood of COVID-19 vaccination.

Compared to earlier in the pandemic, 38.6% of the respondents said they now pay less attention to new COVID-19 information. This same proportion said they are now less in favor of vaccine mandates.

Low levels of education, mistrust in science and government, and the general prevalence of misinformation are known to drive vaccine hesitancy and so-called “anti-vax” convictions. The decrease in vaccine efficacy against emerging variants, especially those of the Omicron lineage, have also lagged vaccine uptake.

“We must remain vigilant in tracking these data, containing COVID-19 variants and addressing hesitancy, which may challenge future routine COVID-19 immunization programs,” said Ayman El-Mohandes, senior author of the study.

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