3 in 10 vaccinated people aren’t convinced about booster shots

3 in 10 vaccinated people aren’t convinced about booster shots
A vaccination centre in Brussels. Credit: Belga

Around 30% of vaccinated people in Belgium are hesitant to get a booster shot of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to a new “coronavirus barometer” from motivation psychologist Maarten Vansteenkiste of the University of Ghent.

Enthusiasm for booster shots is particularly low among those who never got an initial vaccine, reports De Standaard, as they feel that the first vaccine shots do not bring about the freedoms promised.

Around 88% of Belgium’s population is fully vaccinated. However, if a booster shot is soon needed to be considered “fully vaccinated”, these figures could fall to well below 70% if 3 in 10 people do not receive a booster dose.

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Yet Vansteenkiste is staying optimistic: “The booster vaccine has not yet had the chance to prove itself in Belgium. Just like at the beginning of the [initial] vaccination campaign, we see that there is doubt. I expect that gradually more people will want the booster shot.”

Low faith in government

If the motivation is to come from government it will be a tough sell: as many as seven in ten vaccinated people have “little or no confidence in the expertise of politicians.” That confidence has only dropped in recent weeks, following multiple meetings of the Consultative Committee.

Before October, 57% of vaccinated people said they had “much” confidence in the government’s management of the health crisis; this fell to 27% after the latest meeting last week. For non-vaccinated people, only 4% feel confident in the leadership of Belgium’s Government.

“The quick succession of Consultative Committees that seemed to decide too little too late makes it clear that work is needed on a decision-making scheme that helps the government make decisions more quickly and coherently,” Vansteenkiste said.

Informing policy with public sentiment

He hopes that his coronavirus barometer, which tracks public opinion towards all things Covid-19, can lend a hand. “Without a clear decision-making plan for the short and long term, uncertainty about the future will weigh ever heavier. That threatens the credibility of politicians.”

Vansteenkiste doesn’t believe that the low confidence in the government will necessarily be an insurmountable challenge for the vaccination campaign.

“We know that in this discussion, people tend to be guided by their GP or their closest surroundings, not by the government,” he said.

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