28% Indians surveyed have taken the COVID booster dose; 8% more plan to take it within 30 days; 64% are reluctant
- ● 53% of those surveyed have not taken booster shot and don’t plan to take it
- ● 9% have not taken any COVID vaccine shots and don’t plan to do so
- ● 2% are still to decide on whether to take the booster shot
- ● Rising cases of heart attacks in young contributing to rise in hesitancy for booster dose
December 22, 2022, New Delhi: Just when people were taking a breather from long months of COVID led pandemic and life was normalizing with offices, colleges and schools back to routine, the news from China of a new COVID variant surging and causing havoc has again made citizens and authorities anxious, some of it very justified given what happened in late 2019 and early 2020. The dominant COVID Omicron sub variant currently spreading across China is BF.7. Epidemiologists and Health experts estimate 60% of the population of China to get infected and that the current wave could lead to 1 million deaths. Hospitals in China don’t have enough beds and people are seen waiting for hours at crematoriums to bury their loved ones.
Till late 2019, no one had imagined that COVID-19 and its variants Alpha, Beta, Delta and Omicron would change our lives to the extent it has done globally over the last few years. The virus that started spreading from Wuhan, China in December 2019 reached every part of the world within a year. It caused symptomatic disease in many leading to deaths post infection. India began administration of COVID vaccines on January 16th, 2021. The vaccination drive was intensified during the second wave of COVID and its variants, which started spreading in March 2021 and resulted in a strong and lethal second wave in April -May 2021, resulting in thousands of people succumbing to the disease or developing lingering health conditions. According to Ministry of Health and Family Welfare website, over 2.2 billion doses of COVID vaccines have been administered in India, out of which just over 1 billion people have received the first dose, 950 million have received the second dose and 222 million have received the precaution or booster dose. First and second doses have been made available to population above 12 years of age and the precaution dose has been made available to the adult population only.
In the light of the new threat, basis the spread in China the Government on Dec 21st recommended that all eligible must take the booster dose and follow COVID appropriate behaviour along with new testing drives at airports. To understand where people stand on taking the booster dose, LocalCircles conducted a fresh survey which received feedback from 19,988 citizens across 309 districts of India. 66% respondents were men while 34% respondents were women. 43% respondents were from tier 1, 33% from tier 2 and 24% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts.
In the light of the above issue and new emerging threat, LocalCircles survey asked citizens, “What is your current plan/status on taking the precaution/ booster dose of COVID vaccine?” Out of 19,988 respondents to the query, 53% or a majority revealed that they “have not taken the booster dose and do not have any plans of taking it either”; 9% revealed that they “haven’t even taken the first two COVID vaccine doses so the booster dose is out of question”; 8% shared that though “have not taken it” they will “likely take it within the next 30 days”; and 28% of the respondents stated that they “have already taken the booster dose”. Only 2% of the respondents revealed that they were undecided on this issue.
In summary, it appears from the survey outcome that while 28% have taken the precaution of getting the vaccination as also the booster shot, and 8% who are likely to do so in the next 30 days, there is a sizeable 64% of respondents who are currently reluctant to take the booster or precaution dose. Feedback in the community discussion points to two drivers for this high levels of hesitancy to take the booster dose i.e. 1) Many people especially in tier 2, 3 and 4 and rural districts believe COVID has long gone and there is no need to take any more doses and 2) A spate of cases of heart attacks and brain strokes that have occurred in people’s own networks and those reported in the media are leading a section of the population to believe that the vaccine is causing side effects. In a LocalCircles study, 51% citizens said that they have one or more individuals in their close network who has had a heart or brain stroke, cancer acceleration or a neurological condition in the last 2 years. The number stood at 31% a year ago in December 2021. At this time, there is no comprehensive medical research available that proves that the vaccines deployed in India (Covishield and Covaxin mostly) are causing adverse events at scale. Though a recent research paper in USA has FDA confirming that the mRNA vaccine has been linked to blood clotting in the elderly. mRNA vaccines like Moderna and Pfizer have not been rolled out in India.
The need of the hour here is for the Government to conduct comprehensive research and root cause the sudden deaths. According to people, COVID infections, reinfections, vaccines, some batches of vaccines, combination of body types or lifestyles with COVID or vaccine that could be causing such sudden deaths. If such comprehensive research is done and it is proven that the vaccines are not the root cause behind such sudden deaths in the young and middle aged, it is likely that many more of the hesitant would come forward to take it.
The survey received over 19,000 responses from citizens located in 309 districts of India. 66% respondents were men while 34% respondents were women. 43% respondents were from tier 1, 33% from tier 2 and 24% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts. The survey was conducted via LocalCircles platform and all participants were validated citizens who had to be registered with LocalCircles to participate in this survey.