Romania’s government hoped that 70% of the adult population would be vaccinated against Covid-19 by the end of the summer, but a survey released Wednesday shows that the figure is likely to be much lower.
A poll carried out by MedLife medical group said only 5 million people in Romania have had or want to have the vaccine in the next few months. That figure translates as between 27-31% of everyone in Romania above the age of 16.
Prime Minister Florin Citu called the survey „pessimistic” and said the government would press on with the vaccine rollout.
The survey showed that 2 million plan to be inoculated in the immediate future, while another 3 to 4% are putting it off for the next six months to one year.
Mihai Marcu, the chairman of the MedLife Group said that initial estimates of more than 10 million vaccinated by the end of September have proved to be over-optimistic.
He said that while a number of vaccines were readily available in Romania, there was widespread vaccine hesitancy.
The vaccine rollout started on December 27. By Wednesday, more than 2.7 million Romanians had received at least one Covid jab and 1.66 million were fully immunized.
The challenge is to “educate, encourage and convince as many people as possible to get vaccinated,” and this will require “the joint effort and mobilization of the main actors in society – authorities, business, academia, opinion leaders, the church and more,” he said.
Romanian authorities opened the first walk-in Covid vaccination centers on Wednesday in seven counties. The first drive-through vaccination centers are scheduled to open by the end of the month.
The highest vaccination rate is in cities, where it is estimated that at least one-third of people over 16 will be immunized by the end of 2021.
In rural areas, scares about the vaccine are more common. Between 19-23% of people in villages are expected to get Covid jabs by the year’s end.
The level of education is a major factor determining whether people choose to be vaccinated. Better educated people tend to get vaccinated, the study showed.
Men, the over 50s and former Covid patients with moderate to severe forms of the virus are more in favor of vaccination.
People under 40, with a lower level of education who haven’t caught the virus are more reluctant to be vaccinated.
People living in the capital and surrounding area are most pro-vaccine, while the poor northeastern region is characterized by vaccine hesitancy.
Just one-third of Romanians consider the vaccine very effective in preventing infection or developing severe forms of the disease.
Most people who say they are wary of the vaccine cite potential side effects or general distrust.
MedLife carried out the poll between April 5 and April 13, and questioned 1,010 people.