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Over a quarter of EU adults 'unlikely' to get COVID vaccine, survey finds

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A man receives a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a new vaccination center run by the Paris' fire brigade in Paris, Thursday, May 6, 2021.
A man receives a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a new vaccination center run by the Paris' fire brigade in Paris, Thursday, May 6, 2021.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Michel Euler
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Over a quarter of adults in the European Union are unlikely to get vaccinated against COVID-19, a new survey has found.

According to Eurofound, 27 per cent of adults in the bloc are either very or rather unlikely to take the jab. Almost 47,000 people took part in the EU agency's survey between February and March and released on Thursday.

Reluctance is slightly more pronounced in men than in women — 29 per cent compared to 25 per cent — and tends to be sharper in eastern European countries.

Bulgarians were found to be the most hesitant with 61 per cent stating they are very or rather unlikely to get the vaccine. The country is followed by Latvia and Croatia which both have rates of over 40 per cent.

France and Austria are the Western European countries in which the highest rates of vaccine hesitancy were found, with more than a third of respondents declaring they were unlikely to get inoculated.

Meanwhile, more than 86 per cent of respondents in Ireland and Denmark, and 84 per cent in Malta, said they were very or rather likely to get vaccinated.

Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Finland also recorded rates of over 80 per cent.

Overall, Eurofound found that people between the ages of 35 and 49 are slightly more sceptical about the vaccines than their younger or older peers. Unemployed people, those with a long-term illness or disability and full-time homemakers are also more hesitant than working or retired people.

Additionally, it found a correlation between vaccine hesitancy and social media use. Forty per cent of people who said they use social media as their primary source of news are hesitant about the vaccines, while only 18 per cent of those who use traditional news sources as their main source of information are.

Trust in the government and institutions also plays a role.

"Vaccines plays a crucial role in overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, these findings reflect a failure to deliver persuasive ad clear communication regarding the efficacy and safety of vaccines," Daphne Ahrendt, Eurofound senior research manager, said in a statement.

"Trust in vaccines is related to trust in institutions, and this is an issue primarily for policymakers, but we also have a collective responsibility, across society, to ensure that we communicate and publish accurate and sound information on the safety and importance of vaccines," she added.

The EU hopes to have inoculated 70 per cent of its adult population by the end of July — thus achieving collective immunity.

So far, more than 29.5 per cent of the bloc's 450 million inhabitants have received at least one dose, according to Our World in Data.