Vaccine Reluctance Could Stymie Recovery

NielsenIQ study shows high levels of personal skepticism about getting the shots worldwide.

February 01, 2021

CHICAGO—As nations race to source and administer vaccines against COVID-19, a significant proportion of consumers remains wary of inoculations. New research from NielsenIQ indicates that 41% of consumers surveyed in the 15 countries included in the study plan to wait some time before opting to take the vaccine, 12% said they would not take the vaccine at all and an additional 11% were undecided.

In the U.S., 41% of those surveyed said they would take the vaccine immediately if available, while 29% said they would delay shots, 19% said they wouldn’t seek them and 11% were undecided. Of the 15 countries in the study (Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Russian, South Africa, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, U.K. and U.S.), consumers in the U.K. were most likely to say they would immediately seek out the jab while consumers in Japan, Russia and France were least likely to say they would do so. In Japan, for example, 57% of people surveyed said they planned to wait.

“The vaccines are being touted as the panaceas the world needs; the one thing that allows us to get back to life as we knew it. But delays in taking the vaccine may slow efforts towards herd immunity and slow economic recovery,” the NielsenIQ report notes.

About 26.2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the U.S. as of January 28, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control COVID Data Tracker and 48.4 million doses have been distributed.

“The survey was conducted in December and confidence levels around the vaccines and the desire to take the vaccines may change as countries begin more concerted rollouts and deliver education campaigns around the vaccines, but there are clear signals here that the arrival of vaccines won’t automatically put the world back on its pre-COVID path,” said Scott McKenzie, NielsenIQ Intelligence unit leader.

The vast majority of  respondents said they were keeping their spending in check because of the pandemic. Although some consumers plan to spend more once restrictions are lifted, others continue to face economic challenges. For example, 16% of respondents said that after the vaccine becomes widely available in their country they will spend more on groceries, compared with the 12% who said they would spend less.

The NielsenIQ researchers found that 24% of respondents said they planned to dine out more when vaccines are widely available, while 23% intend to reduce their spending back. Looking at confidence levels, 58% said they would not feel confident dining out, and the same number (58%) said they would not feel confident reducing physical distancing during the early days of vaccine rollouts. The survey also found reluctance to return to offices—52% said they would not immediately feel confident returning to their office despite access to vaccinations.

In late January, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published a toolkit to help essential employers inform their workers about vaccines to protect against COVID-19, raise awareness of the vaccines and address common questions and concerns.

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