Only half of Israelis want a third COVID-19 vaccine shot - survey

Israeli belief in the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine appears to be on the decline.

A healthcare worker hands over doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to a doctor at Messe Wien Congress Center, which has been set up as coronavirus disease vaccination centre, in Vienna, Austria February 7, 2021. (photo credit: REUTERS/LISI NIESNER/FILE PHOTO)
A healthcare worker hands over doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to a doctor at Messe Wien Congress Center, which has been set up as coronavirus disease vaccination centre, in Vienna, Austria February 7, 2021.
Only 52% of Israelis who received two shots of the COVID-19 vaccine said they would take advantage of the opportunity to receive a third shot, according to a survey released Friday by Prof. Michal Grinstein-Weiss, director of the Social Policy Institute (SPI) at Washington University and a visiting professor at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya.
When looking at those under the age of 60, only 47% said they would take the shot. Among those 60 and older, 67% said they would get the booster.
“We decided, ‘yalla,’ [let’s go] even before the Food and Drug Administration [gives emergency approval], and I think the Health Ministry thought there would be more inclination” to get the shot, Grinstein-Weiss said. “But there is a big drop in the number of people who are interested in vaccinating. It’s surprising, but there is not a real desire for a third vaccination.”
Israel opened up third shots to people over the age of 60 last week. Several thousand people were inoculated on Friday and, despite what the survey shows, already more than 40,000 elderly have signed up to get the jab this coming week.
Surveys taken before the COVID vaccine came to the country showed there would be high degree of vaccine hesitancy among the public, but Israel became the quickest country in the world to vaccinate the majority of its people. 
Michal Grinstein-Weiss (Credit: Courtesy) Michal Grinstein-Weiss (Credit: Courtesy)
The research was conducted July 26-28 with the support of Yaniv Shlomo, a senior research association at SPI, and in partnership with the MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth.
The survey also asked whether or not parents would give their younger children between the ages of five and 11 a vaccination if it became available and the majority (54%) said they would not. Only 23% said they would vaccinate, while 23% said they were wavering.
When broken down between parents who vaccinated themselves versus those who didn’t, no parents who did not receive the vaccine said they would vaccinate their children, while only 27% of those vaccinated said they would.
There are several reasons why there could be a decline in willingness to get the jab, according to the survey.
When it comes to children, parents are most concerned that health officials still do not know the long-term impact of the vaccine.
To date, only 35% of people under the age of 20 are fully vaccinated versus 90% of those over the age of 60.
However, the survey also found that as the Delta variant spreads across the country, including reinfecting a high percentage of vaccinated individuals, more people believe that the vaccine does not work.
Only 59% of respondents said the vaccine protects against infection, 69% said it prevents the spread of the virus and 82% said it protects against developing symptoms.
Around 53% of all new cases are people who were fully vaccinated, according to the Health Ministry.
IN ADDITION, the public believes that they are not receiving accurate information about the pandemic or the vaccines, the survey found. Some 61% of respondents felt there was a deficit of believable information about the coronavirus and a full 20% said that the pandemic is part of a governmental conspiracy.
A third of respondents also claimed that the media is exaggerating the risks of the virus.
Finally, very few people have a strong fear of contracting coronavirus anymore.
When asked to rate their fear on a scale of zero to 100, with 100 being “very scared,” the average response was 44. Arabs and haredim (ultra-Orthodox Jews) ranked their fear the lowest at 36 and 37, respectively. The most scared were traditional Jews at 50.
“People are much more afraid of the economic impact [of the virus] than the health impact,” Grinstein-Weiss said. “The fear of being locked down is much greater than the fear of being hit with coronavirus.”
Michal Grinstein-Weiss (Credit: Courtesy) Michal Grinstein-Weiss (Credit: Courtesy)
Almost half (48%) of respondents said that they expect another closure, while half said that in the event of a lockdown, they are most worried about how it will impact the Israeli economy.
Why else do Israelis not want a lockdown? They do not want to be forbidden from being with their families on the High Holy Days (48%), do not want to have limits imposed on how far they can venture from home (46%) and do not want to see their children’s schools close (43%).
Only about a third of Israelis are concerned about their personal economic situation.
“I think this tells you something about Israeli culture: that people are so worried about not being with their families on the holidays, even more than about their kids going to school,” Grinstein-Weiss said. “The holidays are very important to Israeli society whether you are religious or not religious, and it was very hard for us last year not being together.”