Tuesday | 30 March, 2021

Georgia among worst in the world for vaccine hesitancy

[Note: This article first appeared on the Caucasus Data Blog, a joint OC Media and CRRC-Georgia effort. The article was written by Dr. David Sichinava, Research Director at CRRC-Georgia. The views presented in the article represent the views of the authors’ alone and do not represent the views of CRRC Georgia or any related entity.]
Scientists agree that global mass immunisation against COVID-19 is the only pathway to putting the virus under control. Yet, the World Health Organisation has argued that actually getting people to take vaccines is ‘an unprecedented challenge’, which might undermine mass immunisation efforts.
New data suggests that the Georgian public is among the least interested in getting a vaccine globally, given available data.
On the January 2021 Omnibus survey, CRRC-Georgia asked respondents whether they wanted to be vaccinated against COVID-19 if a safe and effective vaccine was available tomorrow. While half the public (48%) said yes, half were against being vaccinated (40%) or uncertain (12%). 
Since this poll was conducted, the government has expanded those eligible to be vaccinated to include the general public over the age of 65, after take-up among medical workers was low. 
Vaccination efforts encountered a significant challenge when a nurse who was promoting vaccination passed away as a result of an allergic reaction to the vaccine itself. 
More recent polling from February, which was collected prior to the above described events, has shown an even lower share of the public wants to be vaccinated (35%). 
With this context in mind, how does Georgia fare globally in terms of vaccine acceptance? CRRC data puts the country near the bottom in the global league table of countries where polling data on vaccine hesitancy is available. 
Georgians are on par with the populations of the Philippines, France, and Russia regarding openness to getting vaccinated.

How do different groups of Georgians compare in terms of vaccine hesitancy?
More women than men are hesitant about getting a COVID-19 jab. About half of Georgian men (52%) said that they would get vaccinated compared to 45% of women. Forty-three percent of women said they would not get inoculated, with only 37% of men saying they would not. 
Georgians with a higher education (53%) are eight percentage points more likely to want a vaccine than those without (46%). 
There is a notable partisan split when it comes to openness to vaccination. While most supporters of both the Georgian Dream and opposition parties want a vaccine, more Georgian Dream supporters (62%) said that they will vaccinate than opposition supporters (52%). Georgian Dream supporters were less likely to say that they would not vaccinate (27%) than supporters of other political parties (41%). Importantly, non-partisans were more likely to say that they would not vaccinate (46%) than vaccinate (41%).
Further analysis of the data shows that vaccine hesitancy is also related to other attitudes. For instance, more than half (54%) of those who believe that COVID-19 is a real threat (three-quarters of Georgians) would vaccinate. Those that think the danger of COVID-19 is exaggerated (19% of the total population) are more likely to refuse a vaccine. Only about 25% of such respondents would get a COVID-19 jab, while 66% would refuse to be inoculated.
How do those who refuse to be vaccinated or are uncertain explain their attitudes? Most (55%) respondents said that they do not trust vaccines. Seventeen percent said that they do not need a vaccine. About 10% were afraid of vaccination, and 5% said they are anxious about the vaccines’ potential side effects. Two percent named other reasons, while 11% were unsure. 
Notably, opposition supporters are almost twice as likely to say that they do not trust vaccines (72%) than those that identify with Georgian Dream (38%). While this finding should be taken with caution due to the small sample size, the differences are still suggestive.
Georgia’s vaccine hesitancy problem might partially stem from misinformation. An earlier analysis showed that almost the entire population believed in false facts about vaccines, such as jabs causing autism, that they negatively affect children’s development, or harm the human immune system.
Another reason for such hesitancy could be political. As vaccine reluctance in Georgia correlates to political feelings, further calls for division along partisan lines might well undermine the public’s trust in the process of mass immunisation. 
Instead, politicians should bear in mind an acute public health emergency, set aside political differences, and endorse a consensus about vaccination.
The data used in this article is available here. Replication code for the above analysis is available here.
The analysis above is based on series of multinomial regression models predicting vaccine hesitancy. Demographic controls include gender, age, settlement type, employment status, ethnicity, education, assets index, internet usage, experience of been infected by COVID-19, attendance of religious services and presence of children in the household. Attitudinal predictors control for party affiliation, trust in the government’s ability to deal with the COVID-19 situation, perception whether COVID-19 is a real threat, and optimism regarding COVID-19 situation.
13.05.2014 | Tuesday

Common Challenges Facing the Elderly in Georgia

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Multiple social, psychological, and biological factors determine the level of mental health of a person at any point in time. In addition to the typical life stressors common to all people, older people are more likely to experience events such as bereavement, a drop in socioeconomic status with retirement, or a disability.” 
28.05.2014 | Wednesday

Smoking in the South Caucasus and tobacco policy in Azerbaijan

May 31st is World No Tobacco Day as declared by the United Nations. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco usage is the primary reason for chronic diseases including “cancer, lung diseases, cardiovascular diseases” among other diseases.
27.10.2014 | Monday

Don’t worry, exercise, and be happy

It has become common knowledge that those who exercise regularly are healthier than those who do not, but are those who exercise also happier? According to research conducted by the University of Bristol, people who regularly exercise are happier, more productive at work, and less stressed than those who are not engaged in regular physical activities.
29.03.2012 | Thursday

Blood Donation in Georgia: Obstacles and Opportunities

According to a report by the World Health Organization, blood donations in Georgia fall below the estimated need for patients. Approximately 60,000 donations are necessary per year to cover Georgian patients’ needs, while the number of actual blood donation does not exceed 37,000. Moreover, 95% of blood donations come from paid donors.
11.12.2006 | Monday

Gabala Radar Station -- local health awareness

Rashida Abdullayeva examined a curious relic from Cold War days: in Gabala, Northern Azerbaijan, there is a giant radar station, which is leased out to Russia until 2012. According to reports citing the Russian Ministry of Defence the radar station has a range of up to 6000 km, was designed to detect missile launches from the Indian Ocean, and hosts around 1200 Russian servicemen.
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People’s views about who should pay for health insurance in Georgia

A previous CRRC blog post explored attitudes in Georgia towards the role of the government, and specifically, whether people think the government should act as a parent or as an employee with regards to its citizens. One very specific aspect of this issue is reflected in opinions about how much the government should be involved in coverage of health insurance expenses.
21.01.2019 | Monday

Budget priorities are similar to people's spending priorities

Georgia’s state budget amounted to GEL 12.5 billion in 2018.  The Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs; Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure; and Ministry of Education and Science had the largest appropriations at 28.2% (GEL 3.528 billion), 14.5% (GEL 1.815 billion), and 9.5% (GEL 1.186 billion) of the budget, respectively. In the 2018 June CRRC/NDI survey, respondents were asked, “What are your top three priorities for spending, understanding it means cutting elsewhere?” Respondents were provided with a show card and allowed to name up to three answers. This blog post looks at whether responses match up with actual spending, and how priorities vary among different demographic groups.
16.12.2019 | Monday

Perceptions of healthcare quality in Georgia

Affordable healthcare remains one of the main national issues for people in Georgia: 18% of people considered it one of the most important issues in the July 2019 CRRC and NDI survey. The salience of this issue was at its highest in 2012 (35%), and has decreased over the years, particularly in light of the passage of the universal health insurance program. Nonetheless, affordable healthcare remains one of the most important issues for the public and particularly the cost of medicine, which is one of the three largest costs for over a third of families in Georgia. In this regard, it is unsurprising that over half of the population name the cost of medicine or the cost of care/doctor visits as the largest ones facing the healthcare system in Georgia. The second most common issue, which 24% of respondents named on the question about issues in the healthcare system, was a concern over the lack of professionalism of doctors and medical personnel, something associated with the quality of care.
27.07.2020 | Monday

Analysis | Georgia has a vaccine misinformation problem

Many experts believe that to fully remove the restrictions which have emerged because of the COVID-19 crisis, a vaccine is needed. While vaccines are only expected in the medium term, if and when they are available, Georgia may face large challenges with implementing a large scale vaccination program. 

17.08.2020 | Monday

Support for democracy increased in Georgia during COVID-19, but what does that mean?

The COVID-19 outbreak generated discussion about whether support for democracy would decline during and after the crisis. While reported support increased, this did not necessarily match support for democratic means of governance.

Data from the CRRC’s COVID-19 monitor shows that more people in Georgia reported support for democracy compared to the pre-crisis period. However, as before the crisis, support for democracy does not seem to be grounded in the values commonly associated with democratic governance.

08.09.2020 | Tuesday

Lockdown vs re-opening the economy in Georgia

As the number of new daily confirmed cases is again on the rise, we look at how people felt about the anti-coronavirus restrictions in May.

Aside from the public health situation, COVID-19 has led to rising unemploymentreduced incomes, and food insecurity in Georgia. As the number of new daily confirmed cases is again on the rise, the Caucasus Datablog takes a look at how people felt about the anti-coronavirus restrictions when they were at their height.

12.10.2020 | Monday

A Rapid Gender Assessment of the Covid-19 Situation in Georgia

Last month, UN Women released the results of a Rapid Gender Assessment of Covid-19. CRRC Georgia conducted the research, which was funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Joint SDG Fund. The project was part of a broader UN Women impact assessment initiative. The study that was conducted in mid to late May, looks at how the Covid-19 outbreak affected livelihoods, domestic and care work, and the mental and physical health of women and men in Georgia. The study also provides a glimpse of how women and girls with disabilities reflected on changes the Covid-19 pandemic instigated.
20.10.2020 | Tuesday

Half of Georgians believe COVID-19 is man-made

As COVID-19 spread across the world, it was followed by a hurricane of (mis)information about the origins and nature of the virus. The novelty and scope of the virus gave birth to many conspiracy theories, but which of those took root in Georgia?

An NDI and CRRC survey conducted in June 2020 asked questions about people’s beliefs about the origins and spread of coronavirus. The data suggest that while a majority of the population does not believe in common disinformation messages such as a relation between 5G technology and the spread of the coronavirus, only a small portion thinks that coronavirus came about naturally. 
09.02.2021 | Tuesday

Do people have enough information about COVID-19 in Georgia?

Since the pandemic hit Georgia in February, the Georgian government has taken several measures to raise awareness about it. But are the public actually well informed?

Since March 2020, the Georgian Government has been conducting large scale information campaigns through traditional and online media, has launched an informational web portal,, and has even launched a smartphone app providing information about contact with infected people.

24.02.2021 | Wednesday

Who thinks Georgia handled the pandemic successfully?

Prior to the most recent episode in Georgia's political crises, COVID-19 was the country's main concern. Yet, data on how the public views the country's handling of the crisis shows a stark partisan divide.

It has been a year since the first case of coronavirus was detected in Georgia. Since then, 
over 260,000 cases have been confirmed, over 3,300 fatalities, and the economy has suffered the largest decline since 1994. In light of this, how does the Georgian public assess the country’s handling of the pandemic? 

Data from the 2020 Caucasus Barometer survey offers a snapshot of how well people think the country did in dealing with the outbreak.

06.04.2021 | Tuesday

Drug prices as big a concern as COVID-19 for Georgians

While Georgia’s healthcare system has faced significant challenges as a result of the pandemic, just under half of Georgians consider an issue related to COVID-19 to be among the main challenges facing the country’s healthcare system with medicine prices remaining a big worry, polling suggests. 

In the December 2020 NDI and CRRC-Georgia 
survey, respondents were asked what the largest issue facing the healthcare system was. They were allowed to name up to three issues. The most commonly named issues were the cost of medicine (46%), access to hospitals due to COVID-19 issues (16%), and other COVID-19 related issues (25%).

13.04.2021 | Tuesday

Why do Georgians not want to vaccinate?

With two kinds of vaccines against COVID-19 already available in Georgia, the public’s attitude towards vaccination is becoming more and more important. So why are Georgians so sceptical of coronavirus vaccination?

While willingness to get vaccinated against COVID-19 was not high even in June or December 2020, it is logical to suppose that hesitation would only have increased after the unfortunate case of a young nurse passing away shortly after receiving the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine on 18 March. 

As the data from February 2021 CRRC/NDI survey shows, even before this incident, in February, only around a third of Georgians were willing to be vaccinated against COVID-19, with the largest concern being related to the quality of the vaccine.