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16 April 2021updated 04 Sep 2021 8:46am

Exclusive: French people feel unsafe taking AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines

Around half of those surveyed said they would feel unsafe taking either of the jabs, according to new polling for the New Statesman.

By Ido Vock

In France, twice as many people have said that they would feel unsafe receiving the AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson vaccine in comparison to those that would feel safe, according to new polling for the New Statesman conducted by Redfield & Wilton.

Fifty-five per cent of people polled said that they would feel unsafe receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is more than double the number who said they would feel safe. Forty-eight per cent of the same group polled said they would feel unsafe having the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is twice the 24 per cent who said they would feel safe. Both vaccines, which use similar viral vector technology, have been linked by healthcare regulators to extremely rare but widely reported instances of blood clotting.

French people would feel unsafe receiving the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines
% of respondents who would feel safe or unsafe taking the following vaccines:
Redfield & Wilton for the New Statesman

In contrast, 54 per cent of respondents said they would feel safe receiving Pfizer’s vaccine and 49 per cent Moderna’s, compared to 28 per cent who would feel unsafe taking either vaccine.

The French people who were polled were also suspicious of China’s SinoVac and Russia’s Sputnik V, two vaccines which are currently unapproved by the EU but which have been widely used in other parts of the world. Only 18 per cent of those polled said that they would feel safe taking Sputnik V, while 43 per cent would feel unsafe and 39 per cent didn’t know. When asked about receiving China’s SinoVac vaccine, 15 per cent of those polled said that they would feel safe, 46 per cent said unsafe and 39 per cent said they didn’t know. 

[See also: What AstraZeneca vaccine fears reveal about our skewed sense of risk]

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Forty-four per cent of people said they would be willing to get vaccinated within the next year, which is nine points higher than those who said they would not. But 86 per cent of those who are willing to be vaccinated but have not yet received a vaccination said that which jab they had mattered to them, compared to 14 per cent who said it did not matter. 

The polling, which surveyed 2,200 adults between 14 and 15 April, suggests that preferences for particular vaccines may become a problem for the French government, which has so far pledged to continue using the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson jabs on those older than 55, despite the reports of rare blood clots linked to both jabs.

[See also: International coronavirus vaccine tracker: how many people have been vaccinated?]

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