ATHENS – While most Greeks said they are following health protocols aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 – especially wearing masks – only 42 percent said they’re reading to take a rush vaccine.
A study by Athens University of Economics and Business tracing public attitudes during the pandemic during a second lockdown showed reluctance to take vaccines discovered at record speed.
That showed the difficulty the New Democracy government will have in persuading people that the vaccines, due to arrive in early 2021, will work and are safe, especially in the face of a minority anti-vaccination movement.
The study sampling 3,571 people of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds from across Greece, showed that 68 percent said they keep a safe social distance from others, 86 percent wear a mask and 90 percent obey the requirement to have permission to leave the house, in the form of a cell phone SMS or form downloaded from the Internet or handwritten.
Some 63 percent said they prefer a fabric mask instead of disposable non-surgical versions and 58 percent said they leave home “when this is necessary,” on permissible missions including going to a supermarket, doctor, pharmacy, essential business, bank, exercise or walking a pet.
“Women are a little bit more consistent, while older respondents are significantly more consistent,” Marina Psiloutsikou, member of the laboratory teaching staff who was in charge of the survey told Kathimerini.
While Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis was applauded for bring an early lockdown in the spring that saved lives, his delay in bringing a second – which saw a resurgence of the Coronavirus – dampened his support.
Only 39 percent said they trust his government compared to 578 percent in April during the first lockdown, Mitsotakis even suggesting his panel of scientists and doctors were to blame for not advising a second shutdown faster. Some 85 percent of people said they trust their own judgment first.
The vaccine and the vaccination process are seen more positively by women and older people who are more susceptible, the survey also found, the elderly especially likely to suffer the most.
“Fear of side effects and doubts about its effectiveness are the main reasons for hesitation towards vaccination. However, one in three people in the population believe that the vaccine should be mandatory for everyone,” said Psiloutsikou, which the government said it wouldn’t do.
Providing an opportunity to choose between the COVID-19 vaccines that will become available “will encourage those who are already favorably disposed about it, and impact negatively those who already have reservations,” she added.
The first approved vaccine from the US pharmaceutical firm Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech must be transported throughout its distribution at deep freeze temperatures that allow only about 90 seconds of exposure in transfers.