Home / News / India /  Price tag could be key to covid-19 vaccine use

After months of social distancing, a vaccine for the contagious coronavirus is the next big thing the world is waiting for. A survey has found high willingness among Indians to get vaccinated when that day comes. However, the survey also finds that many may not take the jab if they need to pay for it.

The survey was conducted by Britta Augsburg and others among 4,000 slum dwellers in Lucknow and Kanpur in June. Around 95% of the respondents expressed willingness to get vaccinated, say the authors in an article in Ideas for India. In contrast, even at the peak of the virus, just 74% of the respondents to a survey in some European countries wanted to get the vaccine when it arrives.

Despite greater willingness, around 36% of the respondents in Uttar Pradesh said they would get vaccinated only if it was free of cost. This could be due to factors such as the inability to pay, anxiety about the disease and the fear of side-effects, the authors find. Anxiety could even result in people losing hope about the prospects of a vaccine.

Those who have better awareness about covid-19 prevention, have hygiene facilities at home and practise hygiene measures of handwashing tend to be more willing to get vaccinated, the survey finds. Those who are aware of risks associated with others not getting vaccinated also expressed greater willingness.

Most respondents said they would seek advice from health workers about the vaccine. This shows doctors and health officials can play a big role in spreading awareness about the benefits of a potential vaccine.

The authors suggest that for greater compliance and coverage, governments should deploy subsidized or free vaccines, especially for those who cannot afford it and high-risk groups. Moreover, there should be measures to address misperceptions about the disease and vaccine, the authors say.

Also read | Covid-19: Willingness to vaccinate

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