Survey finds vaccine hesitancy in Ireland fell dramatically over past year

Reluctance among people aged 18 to 34 is slightly higher than the general population

More than 93%  of the State’s adult population has been fully vaccinated, making Ireland the country with the highest vaccination rate in the EU.  Photograph: Getty Images

More than 93% of the State’s adult population has been fully vaccinated, making Ireland the country with the highest vaccination rate in the EU. Photograph: Getty Images

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Public hesitancy about taking the Covid-19 vaccine fell dramatically over the past 12 months, according to a new survey for the biopharmaceutical industry’s representative body.

In November of last year 17 per cent of people said they would refuse a Covid-19 vaccine. By last month this had dropped to 5 per cent, according to the survey conducted by market research firm Ipsos MRBI for the Irish Pharmaceutical Health Association (IPHA).

Over the course of the 12 months the proportion of people undecided about taking a Covid-19 jab fell from 35 per cent to 2 per cent.

The IPHA put the overall drop in vaccine hesitancy at 45 points.

Vaccine hesitancy among young people has dropped at a higher rate but remains slightly higher than the general population.

Among 18- to 34-year-olds, who account for 1.2 million of the country’s five million population, those who said they would refuse a vaccine for Covid-19 has dropped from 19 per cent in November 2020 to 6 per cent a year later.

Total doses distributed to Ireland Total doses administered in Ireland
12,143,670 10,271,198

The proportion of people in that age category who were undecided about taking a Covid-19 vaccine fell from 38 per cent to 3 per cent. That means hesitancy among people aged 18 to 34 overall dropped by 48 points.

“Vaccines for Covid-19, developed in record time without compromising on safety and quality, are saving and protecting millions of lives around the world,” said Bernard Mallee, director of communications and advocacy at the IPHA.

“That Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy is low in Ireland has helped to make us one of the most vaccinated countries in the world. Vaccination reduces serious illness and mortality, giving us a very effective weapon in the battle against Covid-19.”

Mr Mallee said the emergence of the Omicron variant – first identified in South Africa - and the increased transmissibility of the Delta variant “show that we need to keep searching for new scientific paths to combat the virus”.

First batch

Sean Marett, chief commercial officer with BioNTech, which developed the most-used vaccine in Ireland with Pfizer, told the Business Post that a new vaccine for the variant could be ready in just six weeks, with the first batch of jabs dispatched within 100 days.

HSE figures show that about 1,500 people are still coming forward for first doses of the vaccine every day. More than 93 per cent of the adult population has been fully vaccinated, making Ireland the country with the highest vaccination rate in the EU.

More than 913,000 booster and third doses have been administered to people aged over 60, healthcare workers and people with weakened immune systems.

Covid-19 infections and hospitalisations among older age groups have fallen dramatically in recent weeks due to booster shots being administered over the past two months.

Central Statistics Office figures show vaccine take-up rates for Irish nationals range from 85 per cent in the 18-24 category to 96 per cent among people aged 65 and over.

The lowest take-up rate is among eastern European nationals living in Ireland, with rates ranging from 36 per cent among the 18-24 age group to 51 per cent in the 45-64 age groups.