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COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy declines, 50 per cent citizens willing to take it: Survey

Percentage of those willing to be inoculated could go up to 73 per cent if leaders take the vaccine

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LocalCircles, a Community Social Media platform, conducted a survey to know their willingness to take the COVID-19 vaccine. Its results showed that vaccine hesitancy levels amongst citizens, as high as 69 per cent in the first week of January 2021 before the vaccination drive commenced on January 16 2021, reduced to 50 per cent on February 3, 2021, when LocalCircles did the survey last.

The survey indicated that vaccine hesitancy amongst citizens has approximately dropped by 20 per cent just within a month’s time.

The low number of adverse events i.e. less than 10,000 on close to one crore vaccine doses administered along with many people now having someone in their extended social network who has actually taken the vaccine and did not experience any major side effects are two reasons that can be attributed for the declining vaccine hesitancy.

Since October 2020, LocalCircles has been collecting responses from citizens to know their willingness to take the COVID-19 vaccine, aimed to understand if the percentage of reluctance or hesitancy has increased, reduced, or is unchanged, along with reasons for hesitancy. The survey received over 16,000 responses from citizens located across 255 districts of India.

Alongwith hesitancy levels, LocalCircles also conducted a survey which asked people if vaccination via private healthcare channels should commence now.

The majority of 47 per cent said “Yes”. However, 29 per cent of citizens said, “No, wait another three months”, seven per cent said “No, wait for another six months”, 12 per cent said “should not be done this year at all”, while 5 per cent voted, “can’t say”. The poll result that received 8,220 responses indicated that citizens at present are divided on whether the Government should allow vaccination of the public through private healthcare channels. However, if the Government waits three months to open the same, most will be supportive of the same.

In the previous survey, LocalCircles highlighted that one sure-shot way of reducing vaccine hesitancy is leaders in Central and State Governments, MPs and MLAs inoculate themselves. The survey outlined a 23 per cent increase in willingness which could basically mean that vaccine hesitancy could drop to 27 per cent in India with the leaders taking the vaccine.

In addition, making district-level vaccination and adverse event data available on fingertips to people will help build the confidence further, informs LocalCircles as the then survey found out that 62 per cent of Indian citizens don’t have access to data related to vaccination centres, daily vaccinations, adverse events in their district. Even the Aarogya Setu app does not have such information at district levels.

LocalCircles intends to share the findings of this study with key stakeholders in the Government.

Survey Demographics
·         16,000+ responses were received from citizens residing in 255 districts of India.
·         68 per cent respondents were men while 32 per cent respondents were women.
·         49 per cent respondents were from tier 1, 29 per cent from tier 2 and 22 per cent respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts.
·         The survey was conducted via LocalCircles platform and all participants are validated citizens who had to be registered with LocalCircles to participate in this survey.
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