Coronavirus vaccine hesitancy among unvaccinated Austrians

Author(s)
Tanja Stamm, Julia Partheymüller, Erika Mosor, Valentin Ritschl, Sylvia Kritzinger, Jakob-Moritz Eberl
Abstract

Background: To date, Austria is among the countries with the lowest coronavirus vaccination rates in Western Europe. It has announced the introduction of a general vaccine mandate but is experiencing an increasing societal polarization over this issue. We, therefore, aimed to provide evidence on the underlying motivations of vaccine hesitancy and evaluate what kinds of interventions - information, incentives, and rules - might increase vaccination readiness.

Method: We conducted a cross-sectional survey with a sample of 1,543 unvaccinated Austrian residents in October 2021, including two embedded conjoint experiments.

Findings: We screened 8,190 individuals to recruit the sample matching the Austrian micro-census. In experiment 1, easing rather than tightening of societal restrictions, a fixed monetary reward compared to a lottery and physicians' recommendations were associated with significantly higher intentions to get vaccinated. In experiment 2, standard approval by European or national authorities and simple information had a significant positive effect on vaccination propensity. Among the unvaccinated, fear of side effects, beliefs that comorbidities or the desire to have children would not allow vaccination, the assumption that the own immune system would provide sufficient protection, conspirational thinking (e.g., the refusal to participate in a 'large genetic experiment'), low trust in societal institutions, and spiritual beliefs were very common.

Interpretation: While many unvaccinated showed a low propensity to become vaccinated, we identified a cluster of 195 (23% of the participants without missing values) that could potentially be reached by information and incentives, including people with heightened comorbidity rates or a desire for children.

Funding: Vienna Science and Technology Fund.

Organisation(s)
Department of Government, Department of Communication
External organisation(s)
Medizinische Universität Wien
Journal
The Lancet Regional Health - Europe
Volume
17
No. of pages
12
ISSN
2666-7762
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lanepe.2022.100389
Publication date
04-2022
Peer reviewed
Yes
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
504007 Empirical social research, 303011 Health policy
Keywords
ASJC Scopus subject areas
Health Policy, Oncology, Internal Medicine
Portal url
https://ucris.univie.ac.at/portal/en/publications/coronavirus-vaccine-hesitancy-among-unvaccinated-austrians(1c7a54d3-69f7-413d-94df-eb979465df72).html