Dutch survey reveals doubts about a coronavirus vaccine

Dutch survey reveals doubts about a coronavirus vaccine

A new survey by Dutch TV show OneToday (EenVandaag) has revealed that a high proportion of people living in the Netherlands are having doubts about any potential coronavirus vaccine.

A possible coronavirus vaccine

Approximately 35.000 people responded to the survey by the current affairs programme. The results reveal 59 percent of the participants are open to receiving the vaccine should it become available, while 18 percent would not want to receive it at all. The remaining 23 percent of the respondents still have doubts about the validity of the potential vaccine.

Concerns about the virus mainly revolve around issues about the rapid development rate of the vaccine and how this effort to produce one as quickly as possible could result in oversights in regards to potential side effects. Another concern was the likelihood of the coronavirus mutating, and the speed at which this could happen. Any mutation of the virus could render the vaccine useless in the long run. 

Head of the National Vaccination Programme Hans van Vliet believes the overall response to the vaccine is dependent on two factors: the first is how the vaccine is developing and whether it actually works; and the second is how the virus is developing. According to him, the development of the virus is relevant as it continues to play a prominent role in day-to-day life.

Men more in favour of the vaccine than women

The results of the survey show that those in the 55+ age bracket are most likely to receive the vaccine, as almost 75 percent were supportive of it, and only 10 percent would not get it at all. The largest group of doubters appear to be among parents with children under the age of 18, of whom only 45 percent were willing to be vaccinated.

Men also appear to be more likely to support the potential vaccine. 65 percent of male respondents would be willing to be vaccinated in comparison to 53 percent of women. Van Vliet said these results are possible as men seem to get sicker as a result of the virus, and this may, consciously or subconsciously, play a role in their response.

One participant in the survey said they were a supporter of the National Vaccination Programme, but would be against a coronavirus vaccine as it will have gone through a much shorter trial period so the potential short, medium, and long-term consequences are unclear.

Virologist Ab Osterhaus says vaccines today are safer than ever, and that while in the development of any vaccine minor side effects cannot be prevented, there is no reason to believe that a coronavirus vaccine is associated with significant risks. He also says the potential vaccine will most likely work against any potential mutation of the virus. 

Response of the RIVM

The National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) state that they believe the results of this survey are promising, as Van Vliet points out it demonstrates that the majority of people are supportive of the vaccine, despite knowing very little about it. 

Oosterhaus believes that distrust of vaccines is a growing issue in the Netherlands, as according to him highly educated people sometimes think that they know better and increasingly believe that vaccination is unnecessary. Furthermore, as younger people suffer less intensely from the virus, he says they are less likely to be vaccinated. 

Pharmaceutical companies around the world have been working hard to create a vaccine for several months, and the results are eagerly awaited by many both within and outside of the medical field. The vaccine is necessary to achieve the elusive herd immunity, as it would make the target of having 60 percent of the population immune achievable. With 50 percent of survey participants expressing support in the vaccine, this target is in reach.

Much about the coronavirus is still unknown, and this uncertainty could also play a role in the doubts people have about any potential. For example, the RIVM has only recently confirmed that transmission of the virus is also possible through tiny droplets in the air called aerosols. 

Victoria Séveno


Victoria Séveno

Victoria grew up in Amsterdam, before moving to the UK to study English and Related Literature at the University of York and completing her NCTJ course at the Press Association...

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