15 June 2022

Daniela Bianco
Italians are more approving of vaccinations, 50% of those who are uncertain are willing to reconsider

Italian citizens are more trustful towards vaccines, according to a survey carried out by The European House - Ambrosetti with the Interdepartmental Center for Ethics and Integrity in Research of Italy’s National Research Council (CNR,) in collaboration with SWG.

With the pandemic, the confidence of Italians towards vaccinations has increased: out of a sample of 2,000 citizens surveyed, 92% believe vaccines are safe and effective tools to combat infectious diseases. For 33% of them, their level of confidence has increased during the pandemic, especially among men, in the Southern regions and among Generation Z. Even among the more skeptical, 1 in 2 is open to reassess their choices. The determining factors for increasing the propensity to vaccinate are: an open dialogue with doctors and pharmacists, a clear and transparent information and communication from the institutions, an increase in places of administration (pharmacy, workplace and school) and specific incentives.

The survey was presented during an event organized by The European House - Ambrosetti with the unconditional contribution of Pfizer, in Rome. These results make us look with optimism at the next autumn’s vaccination campaign against Covid-19: 77% are in favour of receiving a fourth dose and 17% of those who have not yet vaccinated are considering doing it. The available data on flu vaccination rates is encouraging as well, with 95% of subjects who have been vaccinated in the last season declaring themselves in favor of repeating vaccinations.

Another interesting fact is that 88% of respondents believe to be correctly informed about vaccines, and their person of reference is their doctor, or scientists and institutional websites. Informal information channels, such as friends and family, and social media/forums/blogs, remain the most widely used information sources by those who are against vaccinations.

There is also good knowledge of compulsory vaccinations, while other recommended vaccines are not as well known: 98% of respondents say they are aware of the existence of compulsory vaccinations in the pediatric age but only 76% remember at least some of them, and the rates drop to 94% and 63% respectively for recommended childhood vaccinations. In both cases, the most knowledgeable are people with underage children, and women. The law on compulsory vaccination for the 0-16 age group and the numerous awareness initiatives have certainly contributed to increasing the level of knowledge of pediatric vaccinations, with overall good coverage rates, although decreasing during the pandemic.

The results are different for adolescent and adult vaccinations. Only 34% of respondents said they had been vaccinated against papilloma virus (in the 18-30 age group), only 28% against pneumococcus (in the 60-70 age group), only 11% against shingles (in the 60-70 age group). 83% of respondents say they know people who hesitate or refuse to vaccinate: 26% hesitate or refuse to vaccinate at all, 57% are wary towards the anti-Covid-19 vaccine. The main reasons not to vaccinate are essentially two: perceived health risks and information gaps.

«The survey provides some important indications on the levers on which to act to improve the general awareness on vaccines and, consequently the confidence of citizens towards prevention. 1 in 2 among those who are hesitant and opposed to some vaccinations – such as the anti-pneumococcal, anti-herpes-zoster and anti-papilloma virus – are available to learn more before deciding. It therefore emerges the need to increase efforts in communication to increase the knowledge of citizens on these vaccinations.» Daniela Bianco, Partner and Head of the Healthcare Practice of The European House - Ambrosetti

«55% of respondents would look favourably on economic incentives, primarily for check-ups and free medical examinations, and bonuses for gyms and sports centers; such tools not only increase the level of confidence of citizens but also contribute to the economy. They would be proactive tools aimed at achieving greater participation in vaccination campaigns, to be added to disincentives and penalties. That would align Italian vaccination policies with those promoted by other countries.» Andrea Grignolio, Head of the Vaccine Hesitancy Forum of the Interdepartmental Center for Ethics and Integrity in Research of CNR

In summary, the scenario that emerges from the survey suggests that Italians' confidence in vaccinations has improved after the pandemic from Covid-19. However, even among vaccinated people, there are some elements of perplexity that need to be addressed in a timely and targeted manner. Some areas for intervention have also become clear: different organizational modalities of vaccination services, more specific content and communication channels, incentives and engagement tools, are fundamental levers to increase confidence in vaccines and other means of prevention.

Download here the Position Paper - Italians and vaccines in the post Covid-19 era: trust or skepticism?