Irish study finds interest in uptake of possible Covid-19 vaccine ‘worryingly low’

16 Apr 2020

Image: © Serhii/

A psychological survey of Irish people during the Covid-19 pandemic has suggested that a ‘worryingly low’ number of people are willing to take a vaccine.

Researchers who organised a psychological study of those staying at home during the coronavirus pandemic have found that not everyone is keen on taking a vaccine for Covid-19.

More than 1,000 Irish adults took part in the survey conducted by Maynooth University and the Centre for Global Health at Trinity College Dublin (TCD), as well as teams in Northern Ireland, England and Scotland.

The survey was launched on 31 March, 19 days after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, TD, announced restrictions on the movement of people for a number of weeks. Dr Frédérique Vallières of TCD said that despite encouraging results in Irish people’s understanding of Covid-19, attitudes to the uptake of a potential vaccine were “worryingly low”.

Only 65pc of respondents said they would accept a vaccine for themselves or their children. Participants were asked: ‘If a new vaccine were to be developed that could prevent Covid-19, would you accept it for yourself and your child/children or close relatives?’

“One-in-four people did say, however, that they might accept a vaccine for themselves and their child, compared to one-in-ten people who said they would not,” Vallières said. “A better understanding of why people might be hesitant to accept a Covid-19 vaccine, if and when it is developed, is required.”

Younger people at higher mental health risk

Elsewhere, 41pc of respondents reported feeling lonely and 23pc reported clinically meaningful levels of depression. One-fifth of people also said they were experiencing high levels of anxiety and 18pc reported levels of post-traumatic stress.

Dr Philip Hyland of Maynooth University said rates of mental health problems among those surveyed differed between men and women. Women reported experiencing higher levels of depression and anxiety whereas men said they were experiencing higher rates of post-traumatic stress.

Hyland added: “We also found that younger people, those who have a tendency to think in catastrophic ways, those who fear being infected by Covid-19, and those who have had someone close to them infected by Covid-19 are at a higher risk of mental health problems.”

A second wave of the psychological study is set to begin prior to 5 May, with a focus on the effect of prolonged quarantine and physical distancing measures on mental health, and what can be done to safeguard people’s wellbeing during a future health emergency.

“The social and political context of the present crisis is unique and the mental health consequences of this pandemic need to be properly understood to ensure the nation’s swift return to normal functioning when it is safe to do so,” Hyland said.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic