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From COVID-19 vaccine candidates to compulsory vaccination: The attitudes of Italian citizens in the key 7-month of vaccination campaign

Vaccine. 2023 Mar 3:S0264-410X(23)00243-8. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2023.02.081. Online ahead of print.


INTRODUCTION: The aim of the study is to understand the evolution of COVID-19 vaccine acceptance over the key 7-month vaccine campaign in Italy, a period in which the country moved from candidate vaccines to products administered to the public. The research focus points to evaluate COVID-19 vaccine attitudes in adults and their children, propension towards compulsory vaccination, past and present adherence to anti-flu and anti-pneumococcal vaccines, and the reasons for trust/mistrust of vaccines.

METHODS: Italian residents aged 16->65 years were invited to complete an online survey from September 2020 to April 2021. The survey contained 13 questions: 3 on demographic data; 8 on vaccine attitudes; and 2 open-ended questions about the reasons of vaccine confidence/refusal. A preliminary word frequency analysis has been conducted, as well as a statistical bivariate analysis.

RESULTS: Of 21.537 participants, the confidence of those in favor of the COVID-19 vaccine increases of 50 % and the number of people who wanted more information decreases by two-third. Willingness to vaccinate their children against COVID-19 also increased from 51 % to 66.5 %. Only one-third of the strong vaccine-hesitant participants, i.e. 10 %, remained hostile. Compulsory vaccination showed a large and increasing favor by participants up to 78 %, in a way similar to their propensity for children’s mandatory vaccination (70.6 %). Respondents’ past and present adherence to anti-flu and anti-pneumococcal vaccines does not predict their intentions to vaccinate against COVID-19. Finally, a semantic analysis of the reasons of acceptance/refusal of COVID-19 vaccination suggests a complex decision-making process revealed by the participants’ use of common words in pro-and-cons arguments.

CONCLUSION: The heterogeneity in the COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, determinants and opinions detected at different ages, genders and pandemic phases suggests that health authorities should avoid one-size-fits-all vaccination campaigns. The results emphasize the long-term importance of reinforcing vaccine information, communication and education needs.

PMID:36925424 | DOI:10.1016/j.vaccine.2023.02.081

By Nevin Manimala

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