Gallup poll finds Jamaicans among the most vaccine hesitant, health minister not surprised

A Gullup poll found that Jamaicans were among those most unwilling to take the coronavirus vaccine.

Jamaica, the only Caribbean nation on the list, ranked in close proximity to eastern European countries and former Soviet States, including Russia, whose citizens were among the least likely in the world to believe vaccines in general are safe and effective.

Only five countries on the listing had a lower take-up rate than Jamaica

According to the results of the poll, only 32% of Jamaicans would take a COVID-19 vaccine, if it was offered to them for free.

However, the study which was conducted in 2020, noted that findings may not be indicative of current views as attitudes may have shifted, citing that the surveys were conducted at various stages of the pandemic, prior to the roll out of the vaccine.

Minister of Health Christopher Tufton in reacting to the Gallup poll said he did not find the level of vaccine hesitancy reported surprising.

“ We would have been on record as saying that based on the surveys that we’ve done we have 35%-40% willing to take up the vaccines, another, I think,  20- 30 that would be thinking about it and then the rest that were definitely not willing,” said Tufton while speaking on a radio programme on Friday.

“ We do accept that one of the challenges would be getting people to take it up, which is why we started with influencers and a programme targeting persons in the vulnerable groups and so on. The bigger challenge to address hesitancy, in terms of our approach, has not begun because we’ve had to be balancing that with the availability of vaccines and also targeting specific populations that were vulnerable,” added Tufton.

According to the Gallup poll, nearly three in 10 (29%) worldwide said they would not agree to be vaccinated, and another 3% said they did not know or refused to answer; together, which translates into roughly 1.3 billion adults who were unwilling to be vaccinated at the time of the survey.

The Gallup poll results are based on mobile and landline telephone interviews with approximately 1,000 adults in each country and area, aged 15 and older, conducted in 2020 in 116 countries and areas.