EC report: Less than half of Bulgarians confident in Covid-19 vaccines

Just 45.1 per cent of Bulgarians believe that vaccines against Covid-19 are safe, important, effective and compatible with their beliefs, according to the European Commission’s (EC) State of Vaccine Confidence in the European Union report, released on November 21.

This is compared with an EU average of 78.4 per cent.

Bulgaria’s ranking is the sixth-lowest in the EU, with Latvia at the bottom at 29.1 per cent, while Portugal was the highest at 75.3 per cent.

The report said that 45.1 per cent of Bulgarians saw Covid-19 vaccines as safe, 51.3 per cent as important, 43.9 per cent as effective against infection, 53.7 per cent as effective against disease and 44.4 per cent as effective against transmission.

Among Bulgaria’s health care professionals, 88.1 per cent agreed that vaccines against Covid-19 are important, safe, effective and compatible with their beliefs.

The report said that 92.7 per cent of health care professionals would recommend Covid-19 vaccinations to their patients and 55.7 per cent would recommend them to pregnant women.

As to vaccines in general, 60.8 per cent of Bulgarians saw them as safe, a drop of 16.9 per cent since 2020, while 65.1 per cent saw them as important, a drop of close to 25 per cent since 2020.

Just more than 66 per cent of Bulgarians saw the flu vaccine as safe, down by 7.3 percentage points compared with 2020 and 56.2 per cent saw the flu vaccine as important, a decrease of 12.2 percentage points compared with 2020.

The report, the third of its kind, showed that, across the EU-27 member states, 81.5 per cent of respondents agree that vaccines are important, 85.6 per cent agree they are effective and 82.3 per cent agree that they are safe.

Following fluctuations during the pandemic, perceptions have generally returned to their 2018 levels, the EC said.

Nevertheless, differences between countries and vaccine types persist, the Commission said.

A comparison of the public confidence between over 65-year-olds and 18-34-year-olds shows an increasing “vaccine confidence gap”: The 18-34-year-olds became less confident between 2018 and 2022.

European Commissioner for Health and Food safety, Stella Kyriakides, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic showed how important vaccines are, saving an estimated 20 million lives in the first year after their authorisation.

“This is a testament to our strong cooperation with researchers, scientists, manufacturers, national authorities, and our global partners, “ Kyriakides said.

At the same time, the report underlines the speed at which confidence can change and the many factors that can influence it, she said.

“Gains in vaccine confidence prior to the pandemic were the result of a concerted effort in the EU. We must learn lessons from the pandemic and join forces to understand the barriers so that we can close vaccination gaps,” Kyriakides said.

(Photo: Bulgaria’s Ministry of Health)

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