The Central and Eastern Europe region began recording its first cases of COVID-19 in March 2020, initiating a race to stop the spread of the virus. A year later governments are challenged with swiftly vaccinating their populations to achieve herd immunity before vaccine-resistant mutations emerge.

Societal buy-in, however, will be required if the vaccination programmes are to be successful, an outcome that is threatened by both anti-vax campaigns backed by disinformation and conspiracy-theory spreading outlets and public distrust directed towards pertinent institutions. Though survey data from October 2020 pointed to concerns on this front, the new GLOBSEC Vaccination Trends report based on representative public opinion poll surveys indicates an improved vaccine landscape.

The report finds that Central Europe is indeed now on the path towards eventually administering vaccines to around 60-70% of the population.

Those interested in getting jabbed, meanwhile, express trust in scientific bodies in the transatlantic area. A total of 48% of respondents eager to get vaccinated indicate that they would prefer a Western European or U.S. developed shot. Another 34% of this group are keen on any vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). This finding should indeed be a wake-up call to CEE governments that are considering the administration of vaccines not yet approved by the EMA.

Among other key findings are:

  • A majority in Central and Eastern Europe want to get vaccinated. Outliers include Bulgaria and Romania.
  • The willingness to get vaccinated increased by 20-30% in a five-month period across all V4 countries and doubled in Slovakia.
  • A sizeable contingent – around 20% of society – still remains either “rather not” willing or undecided on vaccination.
  • Central and Eastern Europeans express a clear preference for vaccines developed in Western countries (e.g. Moderna and Pfizer) and EMA-approved vaccines.
  • Only 5% of respondents, on average, mention Sputnik V as their vaccine of choice. Slovaks are outliers on this matter, with 15% indicating a preference for the Sputnik V vaccine over alternatives.
  • The age and education levels of respondents influence their interest in vaccination. A total of 60% of university-educated respondents want to get vaccinated, 15 percentage points greater than people with only an elementary-level education. Interest in vaccination increases with age, partially reflecting the vaccination strategies of CEE countries, which have initially prioritized older people for inoculation.

You can read the full report below.