Irish people are among the most eager citizens in Europe to get vaccinated against Covid-19 and also among the most fearful of being infected with coronavirus, according to a new survey published by the European Commission.
The Eurobarometer study shows that 37% of Irish adults declared they would wish to get the Covid-19 vaccine “as soon as possible”.
It is the second highest rate among the 27 EU member states after Malta with 41% and considerably higher than the EU average of 23%.
A further 34% of Irish nationals said they would like to receive the vaccination “some time in 2021”.
The strong support for the vaccine may be associated with another finding that 64% of Irish people fear they will be infected with Covid-19 in the future compared to the EU average of 54%.
It was the 5th highest rate of concern among EU countries after Malta, Portugal, Spain and Italy.
Ireland also has one of the lowest rates of people who are opposed to ever being vaccinated against the infection with only 8% stating they would never want the Covid-19 vaccine – less than half the EU average of 17%.
A further 9% of Irish people said they did not know whether they would like to receive the vaccine or not if it was authorised by the Irish health authorities, while 12% indicated they would prefer to receive it sometime after 2021.
The research involved a survey of more than 24,400 adults across all EU member states in December.
The findings show there is still a strong cohort of people across the EU who are reluctant or unsure about vaccination against Covid-19.
Overall 17% of EU citizens said they never wanted to get the vaccine while a further 13% said they were uncertain.
At least a third of citizens in Bulgaria and Slovenia declared that they would never get vaccinated against Covid-19 with high levels opposed to the vaccine also recorded in a number of other eastern European countries.
The study revealed that the most influential factor for Irish people seeking the vaccination against Covid-19 would be if others had already done so and they could see it worked with no side-effects.
Two in five Irish respondents cited the positive experience of others being vaccinated as their main reason for also seeking the vaccine.
They also indicated they would be more disposed to the Covid-19 vaccines if there was full clarity on how they are being developed, tested and authorised.
More than three-quarters of all EU citizens agreed that some categories of the population should be prioritised for receiving the vaccine such as the elderly, health workers and others at risk.
However, 72% also agreed or tended to agree that Covid-19 vaccines could have long-term side effects that are still unknown, while 62% held the same opinion about public authorities not being sufficiently transparent about the vaccines.
In Ireland, 49% of respondents complained that public authorities were not sufficiently transparent – the 4th lowest rate in the EU.
Irish people were also less concerned than most Europeans that Covid-19 vaccines were being developed, tested and authorised too quickly to be safe.
The survey showed it was a concern for 47% of Irish citizens compared to the EU average of 62%.
At the same time, almost six in 10 Europeans believe vaccines are the only way to end the pandemic with the figure even higher in Ireland at 71% - the second highest rate in the EU after Denmark.
On the question of mandatory vaccination, only 35% agreed or tended to agree that vaccination against Covid-19 should be compulsory, although 46% felt that such vaccination was a civic duty.
Europeans were split equally on the question of not understanding why people would be reluctant to get vaccinated.
The survey also showed that Irish people are more likely to trust their doctors, nurses and pharmacists rather than public health authorities for reliable information on Covid-19.
A clear majority of all EU citizens expressed a wish for more information on the safety and effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines.