Ukraine

Situation Report
Analysis
Per cent of population willing to get a COVID-19 vaccine
Per cent of population willing to get a COVID-19 vaccine [11]

Ukraine’s population readiness to get a COVID-19 vaccine

The COVID-19 pandemic appears to be gaining an even firmer grip on Ukraine over the past few months. On 23 April 2021, the number of confirmed cases surpassed the 2 million mark, doubling just in 4 months. While the epidemiological situation shows few signs of improvement, Ukraine officially started the COVID-19 vaccination campaign on 24 February 2021. As of 12 May, 882,619 people have received the first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 1,928 people are fully vaccinated.

However, at the current vaccination pace, [1] it will take at least five and a half years to administer one dose to the entire adult population of Ukraine if everyone agrees to take a vaccine. [2] Besides, historically, Ukraine’s population has been highly vaccine-hesitant, which is reported to be improving in the past few years. At the same time, on 29 April, the record high vaccination level was registered – 73,256 administered doses per day. If the level of vaccination doesn’t drop below the above on workdays, the vaccination time horizon of the entire adult population with one dose could decrease threefold.

The surveys’ findings presented below attempt to shed light on the population of Ukraine’s attitude to COVID-19 vaccines and what could be expected from the vaccination campaign.

According to a UNICEF-facilitated survey conducted during March, [3] most respondents consider vaccination an effective way of protection against COVID-19: 63 per cent of all respondents would vaccinate free of charge, with 31 per cent only ready to be vaccinated with certain vaccines. Some 70 per cent of respondents consider the vaccination efficient to prevent serious disease progression and 63 per cent believe it to be safe. The key reasons for compliance with vaccination identified by 83 per cent of respondents are to avoid exposure to COVID-19, followed by preventing severe complications and protecting others (66 per cent).

A different survey, conducted in March by the Ukrainian sociological agency, Rating, [4] suggests that only 37 per cent of respondents want to get vaccinated, while 41 per cent would be unlikely get vaccinated. The situation in eastern Ukraine is reported to be slightly worse compared with the rest of Ukraine: 34 per cent are ready to get vaccinated, while almost 50 per cent of respondents would be unlikely to do so. Overall, 71 per cent of respondents consider that mass vaccination will help contain the spread of COVID-19 globally.

WHO’s behavioural research conducted in March 2021 [5] suggests that the Ukrainian population’s attitude to vaccines hasn’t significantly changed since August 2020, with 48 per cent of respondents indicating readiness to take a vaccine if it becomes available. The majority of respondents don’t plan on receiving a COVID-19 vaccine because of concerns over adverse effects followed by concerns about its country of origin. Meanwhile, the ability to see close family members, lifting of restrictions and receiving the vaccine free-of-charge have been indicated among the most common motivators to get vaccinated.

Regarding the country of origin of vaccines, the respondents of the Rating survey [6] reported the most trust in vaccines produced in the United Kingdom, United States and countries of the European Union (around 50 per cent). Respondents have the least confidence in vaccines made in China (17 per cent), Russia (19 per cent) and India (30 per cent).

It is estimated that Ukraine has so far secured around 1.2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, [7] including around 484,200 through the COVAX facility (367,200 AstraZeneca-SKBio and 117,000 Pfizer vaccines). [8] There are reports that Ukraine has deals to procure additional 10 million doses of Pfizer vaccine in 2021, and 2.2 to 3.7 million doses of AstraZeneca/Oxford are expected to be provided by the COVAX facility in the first six months of 2021.

Despite the contradictory attitudes to COVID-19 vaccination, over the past five years, the support for the vaccination of children against various diseases has increased: 65 per cent support these vaccinations unequivocally and an additional 24 per cent would rather support the vaccination of children against diseases such as polio, measles, tuberculosis, Hepatitis B and diphtheria. [9] Yet, Ukraine’s population readiness to get a COVID-19 vaccine is still one of the lowest compared with other European countries, including its closest neighbours, as well as the United States and Canada. The first stage of Ukraine’s vaccination campaign has also shown worrying results: only 3 per cent of the population above 85 years old has been vaccinated so far. [10]

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[1] According to National Security Council of Ukraine, 380,448 received one shot of COVID-19 vaccine in April 2021 and 245,593 in March 2021.

[2] According to the Ukraine Census Database, the total population of Ukraine is: 41.7 million, including 34.2 million residents aged 18 or older.

[3] UNICEF-facilitated survey conducted by the Info Sapiens agency with the USAID financial support, 22 April 2021.

[4] Rating Sociological Agency, Vaccination In Ukraine: Barriers And Possibilities, 18-19 March 2021.

[5]  WHO Behavioural insights (BI) on COVID-19 in Ukraine. Wave 11 data collection: March 20-22, 2021

[6] Rating Sociological Agency, Vaccination in Ukraine: Barriers and Possibilities, 18-19 March 2021.

[7] National Security Council of Ukraine, Procurement of COVID-19 Vaccines.

[8] COVAX is a global initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and the World Health Organization.

[9] Rating Sociological Agency, Vaccination in Ukraine: Barriers and Possibilities, 18-19 March 2021.

[10] Ukrinform, Vaccination of People Aged 65 and Above Has Started Earlier than Planned, 29 April 2021.

[11] Reuters, Europe’s Vaccine Hesitancy, 1 April 2021.

Aarhus University, Sustained COVID-19 Vaccine Willingness in Denmark Following the Rare Cases of Blood Clots, 9 April 2021.

Statista, Average Willingness to Get Vaccinated Against COVID-19 in Central and Eastern Europe In 2020, by country, December 2020.

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