What do Europeans think of COVID-19 vaccines?

Editorial Team

Editorial Team

April 19th, 2022

Editorial Team

‘82% are in favour of vaccines, with 5% saying they are ‘hesitant’ and 8% declaring themselves to be opposed to COVID-19 vaccination’

A comprehensive survey of people from across the European Union (EU) shows strong support for COVID-19 vaccines. More than 80% of the 26,000 people interviewed for the research in February 2022 said they favoured vaccination.

This broadly reflects the uptake rates for COVID-19 vaccines in the EU where 85.7% of adults have had at least one dose. Positive sentiment towards vaccines ranges from 75% in Luxembourg to 91% in Portugal.

The Eurobarometer research has tracked attitudes to vaccines during the pandemic. A May 2021 survey found a broadly positive view of vaccines, which has strengthened as vaccines have reached more people. (See infographic results summary)

A large majority (77%) believe that ‘overall, the benefits of vaccines outweigh any possible risks’, while 74% that vaccines authorised in the EU are safe and 71% say vaccines are the only way that can end the pandemic[1] . However, 55% still fear that vaccines could have long-term effects that we do not yet know. Concerns over long-term effects have declined by 7 percentage points since May 2021.

Despite the generally positive results, there is still work to do to improve attitudes to vaccines in Europe. The survey revealed lower support (58%) for vaccinating children against COVID-19. There were also mixed results on compulsory vaccination with 56% saying COVID-19 vaccination should be compulsory. Two thirds (67%) said vaccination is a ‘civic duty’ while 71% favoured restricting access to some events or places for those who refuse to get vaccinated.

According to the results of the survey, more than seven out of ten Europeans (71%) believe that the EU plays a key role in ensuring their access to COVID-19 vaccines. At national level, 48% of Europeans say they are satisfied with the way their national government has handled vaccination.

Wanted: vaccine information

Finally, 44% (-7 pp.) of Europeans would like more information on the effectiveness of vaccines, and 42% (-3 pp.) on the way in which they are developed, tested and authorised. On average, almost one in two respondents agree that it is difficult to find information that they can trust about COVID-19 and vaccines.

There are differences between countries: 60% of people in Czechia and Croatia, and 64% in Bulgaria, have difficulty finding vaccine information.  In Ireland and the Netherlands, on the other hand, a majority (61% and 55%, respectively) do not find it difficult to find information they can trust.

Asked who they trust as sources of reliable information on COVID-19 vaccines, the public said that healthcare professionals remain top of the list:

  • 62% Health professionals, doctors, nurses and pharmacists
  • 49% National health authorities
  • 23% European Union
  • 21% National governments
  • 13% People around you

The European Coalition for Vaccination, a group of doctors, pharmacists, nurses and others have stepped up their efforts to train health professionals to engage with people’s questions on vaccination. This work can shape attitudes to COVID-19 vaccination as well as uptake of other routine immunisations which have fallen during the pandemic.

Read the full survey report