Health and Healthcare Systems

Fewer people say they would take a COVID-19 vaccine now than 3 months ago

woman getting a vaccination

A COVID-19 vaccine won't work if people don't take it. Image: Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Gayle Markovitz
Acting Head, Written and Audio Content, World Economic Forum
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Health and Healthcare Systems?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how COVID-19 is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:


  • The latest World Economic Forum-Ipsos survey on vaccine confidence shows that on average, across 15 countries, vaccination intent is down by 4 points since August.
  • Aside from the challenges of manufacturing a vaccine and then ensuring its fair distribution, one of the great stumbling blocks is vaccine confidence, itself.
  • Vaccine confidence can be highly variable and shouldn’t be taken for granted. The current shortfall could be enough to limit the efficacy of the vaccine once it is delivered.

The world is still struggling to contain the pandemic. Test-and-trace has met with implementation challenges and some countries – notably in Europe – are entering a fresh cycle of lockdowns and rising pandemic fatigue.

But another force - a reluctance to receive a pandemic vaccine – seems to be mounting.

Numerous pharmaceutical companies are working on vaccine trials, while organizations including the World Health Organization (WHO), Gavi and CEPI are also seeking to ensure any future solution is available for those most in need.

Have you read?

Progress over the past few months has edged the world closer to launching a vaccine, with news coming just this week, for example, that doctors in the UK are being told to be ready to administer a vaccine by Christmas.

But this latest World Economic Forum-Ipsos survey shows that confidence in taking a COVID-19 vaccine has dropped since August, with fewer people globally saying they’d get one.

Confidence has dropped

The survey shows that on average, across 15 countries, 73% of adults strongly or somewhat agree with the statement “if a vaccine for COVID-19 were available, I would get it”. 3 months ago, that figure was 77%.

At the time, the shortfall in vaccine confidence was significant enough to be seen to compromise the effectiveness of seeing an end to the pandemic.

Confidence is now down by 4 points compared to three months ago. Vaccination intent has declined in 10 of the 15 countries, most of all China, Australia, Spain, and Brazil.

More than four in five in India, mainland China, South Korea, and Brazil, however, say they would get a vaccine if available – compared to just over half in France and about two in three in the US, Spain, Italy, South Africa, Japan, and Germany.

Image: World Economic Forum-Ipsos

Why people are hesitant

The reasons people are reluctant to get a vaccine vary.

Globally, concerns about side effects are cited by 34%, and concerns about clinical trials moving too fast are cited by another 33%.

Among those who would not get vaccinated, worrying about side effects is most cited in Japan (62%), while the speed of clinical trials is most mentioned in Brazil and Spain (by 48% in both countries).

Globally, one in ten say they are against vaccines in general (including 14% in India and South Africa), they don’t think a vaccine will be effective (15% in Germany), and say the risk of their getting COVID is low (20% in China and 19% in Australia).

Around one in four adults (24%), across the 15 countries think the chance of getting COVID-19 is so low that a vaccine is not necessary at all. Adults in India stand out as being particularly likely to agree with this statement (52%). The US follows next, though at a distance, at 31%, while Canadians are least likely to agree, with only 16% sharing this opinion.

What about the timing of a vaccine?

The survey also looked at how soon people would get the vaccine. Half of adults globally (52%) say they would get vaccinated within three months after the COVID-19 vaccine is available to all.

More than two thirds would do so in Mexico (71%), Brazil (68%), and China (68%), but fewer than four in 10 in France and Spain (38% both).

As many as 90% in China and 86% in South Korea say they would get vaccinated within the first year of the COVID-19 vaccine’s availability, compared to just 54% in France.

Image: World Economic Forum-Ipsos

When asked how soon they think a first vaccine will be available for general use for COVID-19, on average, only 45% of all adults across the 15 countries believe the first vaccine will be available for general use within the next six months. This includes the 16% who expect a vaccine to be ready within three months.

Instead, 55% think it will take nine months or more, including 18% who think it will take at least 18 months.

The belief that a vaccine will be available within the next six months is most prevalent in China (75%) India (72%), Brazil (67%), and the US (57%); it is lowest in France (26%), Spain (30%), and Japan (32%).

Vaccines won't work if people don't take them

The survey shows that aside from the challenges of manufacturing a vaccine and then ensuring its fair distribution, one of the great stumbling blocks is vaccine confidence, itself.

A separate study mapping trends in vaccine confidence across 149 countries between 2015 and 2019, found that scepticism about the safety of vaccines tended to grow alongside political instability and religious extremism. Confidence can be highly variable and shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Experts estimate that at least 70% of the population will need to be immune to the virus to stop community spread of COVID-19. Accomplishing this demands that public confidence in a vaccine is especially high and the current shortfall could be enough to limit efficacy.

WHO named public hesitancy towards vaccination as one of the Top 10 Threats to Global Health in 2019, affecting not only public health, but businesses and economies.

While the numbers in this latest study do show that overall, there is more confidence than not in a COVID-19 vaccine, the rising hesitancy is material and highlights that a vaccine won't work if people don’t take it.

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

This Earth Day we consider the impact of climate change on human health

Shyam Bishen and Annika Green

April 22, 2024


About Us



Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum