ATTITUDE OF UKRAINIANS
TO THE COVID-19 EPIDEMIC
AND VACCINATIONS
Side effects, safety, price, country of origin: a survey found out what worries Ukrainians the most about the COVID-19 vaccines, whether people are ready to vaccinate, which vaccines they trust, and where they get information about the vaccines.
A negative attitude towards vaccination to some extent exists in all countries of the world. It can stem from religious considerations, public knowledge about cases of health deterioration after vaccination, intentionally falsified data about vaccines, or even beliefs in conspiracy theories that a medication preventing the disease is, in fact, mixed with something intended to control patients in the future (microchips, drugs, etc.).
This survey is focused primarily on the attitude of the population of Ukraine towards the pandemic and measures to fight it — including mass vaccination. It also covers information sources about vaccination, readiness to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 and pay for it, trust in vaccines from different manufacturers, factors that can encourage or discourage people to vaccinate, etc.
The survey was conducted by the Kharkiv Institute for Social Research for the Public Interest Journalism Lab with support from the International Renaissance Foundation. Materials presented here do not necessarily reflect the views of the International Renaissance Foundation. The survey was conducted from 13 to 23 December 2020 via Computer-Assisted Personal Interviews (CAPI). 1500 face-to-face interviews were conducted using a random sample of people from different localities of different sizes and covering five macro-regions of Ukraine (East, West, South, North, and Center).
Side effects, safety, price, country of origin: a survey found out what worries Ukrainians the most about the COVID-19 vaccines, whether people are ready to vaccinate, which vaccines they trust, and where they get information about the vaccines.

Below is a summary of a national survey conducted by the Kharkiv Institute for Social Research in December of 2020 — on the eve of a mass vaccination campaign against the coronavirus throughout the world.

The survey found out whether Ukrainians are ready to vaccinate, what factors influence their decisions, which vaccines they trust the most, and where they get information on the issue.

The majority of respondents (63%) believe that vaccination is necessary for everyone because it provides herd immunity, protects individuals, and will help to end the coronavirus pandemic (54%), which 86% of Ukrainians consider a "real threat".

At the same time, in December of 2020 (before the start of mass vaccination around the world), only 40% of Ukrainians were ready to vaccinate while 47% responded they were not. 13% remained undecided.
Hesitation to vaccinate in many cases is caused by the fear that vaccination will be expensive — 51% are not ready to pay for it — or its possible negative effects: 50% were afraid of side effects, 43% — of flaws in vaccines' developed so hastily, 22% were weary because of doubts whether transportation and storage requirements will be met. Only 10% of Ukrainians are afraid to be vaccinated because of conspiracy theories, in particular, because they think that vaccination is a cover-up for mass chipization.

A third of Ukrainians do not trust in vaccination as a way to prevent disease in general, although the majority of citizens (86%) are sure that they have been vaccinated as adults or in childhood. 67% responded that they have vaccinated their children.
A high number of people that are not ready to be vaccinated is not a sign that society is overtaken by beliefs in conspiracy theories or a total lack of faith in modern preventive medical measures. The survey demonstrated that most often such attitude is caused by several motives and fears that can be dispelled by a persuasive communication campaign conducted by the state, so it is possible to decrease the number of refusals significantly. The most important factor of refusal is a rational concern about side effects that one in two respondents has. Also, the survey found out that 43% think that vaccines can be dangerous "because they were developed in a hurry". Another reason for refusal can be financial: 51% of Ukrainians are absolutely not ready to pay for vaccination, for 20% of respondents high prices can be the primary reason not to vaccinate. The failure of national policies on vaccination during the last ten years are also visible: vaccination ceased to be a customary, routine procedure. A significant number of respondents — 43% — to some extent do not trust in vaccination as a practice to prevent diseases. 34% do not believe that vaccination is the key to ending the pandemic of COVID-19.
Denys Kobzin, the head of the Kharkiv Institute for Social Research
Almost a third of Ukrainians believe in conspiracy theories about the pandemic, and that influences their attitude towards vaccines. There are three most popular theories: 1) pandemic is the result of a failed biological experiment; 2) pandemic is an act of sabotage by the US or China; 3) the pandemic is a hoax aimed at redistributing capitals worldwide.
Distrust in vaccination is partly caused by the opinion that "it only benefits pharmaceutical companies since they gain profits from it" (27.5%) and total failure to understand that vaccination is needed to restore the national economy — only 5% agree with this statement.

Ukrainians are more eager to vaccinate if they have heard about positive experiences with vaccination of their acquaintances or family members (34%), were advised by a doctor (27%), the vaccine does not have widely known side effects (17%), and if vaccination is free of charge (18%).
Among the factors that could cause respondents to refuse vaccination are negative experience (46%) or side effects of vaccination (27%), warning from a doctor (24%), insufficient information (20%), and high prices of the vaccines (20%).

The most interesting information for Ukrainians is how exactly the vaccine against COVID-19 works since it is new and there is no data on vaccination experience and recommendations from doctors. This particular information, according to the poll, can significantly affect the decision on whether to vaccinate.
Data on possible side effects is also of high value: more than half the respondents want to have it (50.5%).

Also, people want to know about the effectiveness of the vaccines (40%), vaccination process in other countries (30%), mechanism of action (28%), manufacturing procedure (21%), and vaccine certification (21%).

Simple surveys on whether people intend to vaccinate were insufficient for finding out under what circumstances people will trust in vaccination. It is easy to speculate that refusal to vaccinate stems from some conviction or belief in conspiracy theories. Instead, the survey showed us that there many factors can affect a person's decision, first of all, scientific facts and expert commentaries. It is true not just about vaccination in general but about new information about COVID-vaccines specifically. For citizens, it is not enough to know only information about the country of origin (besides, this information is promptly politicized). They want to know whether there are side effects of the vaccines and age limits, whether vaccines are delivered reliably and safely. Since everything is happening here and now, vaccines were developed in record time, it is, in a point of fact, a responsibility of the media to spread this information: talk to experts, ask medics and people responsible for vaccine transportation, look for information that people want to know. I hope that the survey will help in presenting the information about vaccination and will be backed up by science and facts.
Nataliya Gumenyuk, the founder of the Public Interest Journalism Lab

The most trusted by Ukrainians are vaccines manufactured in the United States, Belgium, and the United Kingdom.

This corresponds well with the data on the most popular vaccines against COVID-19 certified today: Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca. They are already in use in Europe, the US, and other countries worldwide. It is also worth mentioning that 18% of respondents do not trust any vaccine manufacturers and 7.6% just do not know about the vaccines.
Only 12% trust in Russia as a vaccine manufacturer: that is much less than trust in Western countries but almost twice more than trust in Chinese vaccine (6%) or vaccine that could have been manufactured in Ukraine (6.8%).

Information about vaccination and vaccines respondents get mostly from TV (58%), news sites (37%), and social media (32%). Only half of the respondents trust this information.
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