The necessity of annual vaccination against COVID-19 is becoming more and more likely with ever new virus variants and the immune protection built by recovery or vaccination yet limited in its duration. Jakob Weitzer and Eva Schernhammer from the Department of Epidemiology at the Medical University of Vienna, and Gerald Steiner from the University for Continuing Education Krems, together with colleagues from the Transatlantic Research Lab on Complex Societal Challenges, investigated the population’s willingness to get a jab against COVID-19 once a year.

For this purpose, the researchers carried out a survey in August 2021 among 3,067 people living in the D-A-CH region (Germany, Austria, Switzerland). Of those surveyed in this region, 2,480 people (80.9%) had already been vaccinated or planned an inoculation against COVID19. Thereof, 82.4% reported that they were willing to get a vaccination against COVID-19 on an annual basis.

The study also found that this willingness was higher in Austria (81.6%) and Germany (87.2%) compared to Switzerland (77.9%). People of older age agreed to be vaccinated and outnumbered the group of younger people. And people who had taken part in the latest national elections - whether for a governing or opposition party - were more likely to be vaccinated annually than people who had not participated in the elections.

Willingness to be vaccinated in relation to other factors

The group of people attending religious meetings or masses less frequently were more likely to be vaccinated each year than those attending regularly. Similarly, those who partially or fully agree with corona measures were more likely to be vaccinated annually than those who do not agree with corona measures. In Austria, the correlation between voting behavior and agreement with the corona measures was strongest in relation to the willingness to be vaccinated annually.

Overall, the study results suggest that willingness to be vaccinated annually against COVID-19 is relatively high among the portion of the population that was already vaccinated or planning to be vaccinated at the time of the study. However, it is clear that there is a need for further efforts to increase confidence in the efficacy, safety, and appropriateness of vaccination when considering both the willingness of those who were already vaccinated or plan to be inoculated and the number of people who are not willing to be vaccinated.

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