How to increase vaccination readiness

Berlin Health Minister Karl Lauterbach’s (SPD) vaccination campaign is not taking off – despite a million-dollar budget for posters and advertisements. Currently, an average of about 55,000 people are vaccinated against the coronavirus per day, and almost ten times more than a year ago. About 13 percent of people were vaccinated a fourth time.

When and why people are vaccinated, scientists especially intensively studied during the corona pandemic. A team of researchers from ZEW Institute Mannheim and Cornell University in America studied last year’s vaccination campaign to investigate how willingness to get vaccinated could be increased. Handelsblatt could see the results in advance.

For their study, the researchers in 2021 December. asked approximately 550 fully vaccinated people whether they would choose a booster shot and under what conditions they would choose the vaccine. Although the study was USA carried out, the authors derive from it statements about the current German vaccination campaign, but with a few exceptions.

Because the determining parameters are quite comparable. It is the good availability of the vaccine and the circulating highly contagious but milder variants that Omikron owns then and now. “The underlying environment has not changed,” co-author and ZEW researcher Nicolas Ziebarth told Handelsblatt in an interview.

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Basically, the researchers identified three factors that positively affect the willingness of the population to use boosters. The crucial factor is the manufacturer of the vaccine. “Biontech/Pfizer had an advantage,” says Ziebarth. 68 percent of the respondents would choose the revaccination of the Mainz company for such vaccination. Modern only 63 percent

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Another factor that respondents seem to place a lot of importance on is the effectiveness of the vaccine. With a vaccine that reduces the risk of symptomatic disease progression by 90 percent, 73 percent of respondents are willing to revaccinate. At a hypothetical 50 percent efficiency, that’s not even every second person.

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“That’s why it’s important to emphasize the vaccine’s effectiveness politically and during the campaign at every opportunity,” says Ziebarth. This is not clearly recognizable in the current campaign. Short clips show people explaining why they get vaccinated. “It is based on identification, but not necessarily on facts,” says the scientist.

In addition, the authors wanted to know whether the willingness to use boosters could be increased through financial incentives. “For a ten-dollar payment, 53 percent of respondents would agree to revaccinate,” Ziebarth says. A $100 payment would already be 61 percent, and a $1,000 payment would be 69 percent.


But in practice, according to Ziebarth, cash payments can have negative consequences for years to come if revaccination becomes useful and necessary again. Then citizens can expect money again. This could not be sustained in the long run. A reward like food or drinks would be better, similar to donating blood.

Apparently, it made no difference whether the vaccine protected against future variants or not. “Respondents think they’ll get vaccinated once a year anyway — similar to the flu,” Ziebarth said.

That is why he does not see any fundamental difference between people who have to choose the first booster, as they did a year ago, or the second booster, as this year. There are differences, for example, in the recommendation of the Permanent Vaccination Commission, according to which only a second revaccination is assigned to those over 70 years of age and to the risk group. “However, the factors influencing the decision remain: manufacturer, efficiency and financial incentive,” Ziebarth said.

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