(Vienna, 03 June 2022) In view of the constant emergence of new viral variants and the limited duration of immune protection through recovery or vaccination, it is becoming increasingly likely that an annual COVID-19 booster vaccination might be needed. Working with colleagues from the Transatlantic Research Lab on Complex Societal Challenges, Jakob Weitzer and Eva Schernhammer from the Department of Epidemiology at the Medical University of Vienna and Gerald Steiner from the University of Continuing Education Krems investigated the willingness of the population to be vaccinated annually against COVID-19. The researchers conducted a survey in August 2021 among 3,067 people living in the D-A-CH (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) region.
Of those surveyed in the D-A-CH region, 2,480 (80.9%) had already been vaccinated against COVID-19 or planned to be vaccinated. Of these, 82.4% said they were willing to be vaccinated annually against COVID-19.
The study also found that this willingness to receive an annual COVID-19 booster vaccine was higher in Austria (81.6%) and Germany (87.2%) than in Switzerland (77.9%). Older people were more willing to be vaccinated than younger people. People who voted in the last national election, whether for a governing or opposition party, were more willing to be vaccinated annually than those who had not voted in the election.
People who less frequently attend religious meetings or participate in mass were more willing to be vaccinated annually than regular churchgoers. Further, those who partially or fully agreed with coronavirus restrictions were more willing to receive an annual COVID-19 booster vaccine than those who did not agree with these restrictions.
The correlation between voting behaviour and approval of coronavirus measures and willingness to be vaccinated annually was strongest in Austria.
Further efforts needed to address anti-vaxxers
Overall, the results of the study suggest that willingness to be vaccinated annually against COVID-19 is relatively high in the section of the population that was already vaccinated or planned to be vaccinated at the time of the study. However, it is clear that further efforts are needed to build confidence in the efficacy, safety, and appropriateness of vaccination.
Publication: The Lancet Regional Health – Europe
Willingness to receive an annual COVID-19 booster vaccine in the German-speaking D-A-CH region in Europe: A cross-sectional study
Jakob Weitzer, Brenda M. Birmann, Ilja Steffelbauer, Martin Bertau, Lukas Zenk, Guido Caniglia, Manfred D. Laubichler, Gerald Steiner, Eva S. Schernhammer