უკან
ორშაბათი | 27 ივლისი, 2020

Analysis | Georgia has a vaccine misinformation problem

[Note: This article was written by Dustin Gilbreath, Deputy Research Director at CRRC Georgia and published originally on Civil.ge. The views presented in the article are the views of the author alone and do not represent the views of the Embassy of the Netherlands, CRRC Georgia, or any related entity.]

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.

Rather than money or logistics being the primary barriers to vaccination, misinformation might be. In other contexts, anti-vaccine sentiment has led to the re-emergence of diseases that had long been under control. The newly released COVID-19 Monitor data, which CRRC Georgia collected with the support of the Embassy of the Netherlands in Tbilisi, suggests that large shares of the public are misinformed about vaccines. Furthermore, the more negative or uncertain people’s attitudes are towards vaccines, the lower is their chances of wanting to be vaccinated if a COVID-19 vaccine was available.

The survey asked respondents a set of 11 questions about vaccines ranging from whether vaccines cause autism to if vaccines are effective at preventing the diseases they are supposed to. The results suggest there are high levels of uncertainty and misinformation about vaccines in Georgia. 


One in five people (19%) agree with the statement that vaccines cause autism.  A further 52% are uncertain.


One in five people (21%) believe that infant immune systems cannot handle as many vaccines as doctors give them. Another third (35%) are uncertain.


One in five (21%) also believe that if they vaccinate their child, it may create serious problems and a quarter (24%) are uncertain.


Although less than half the public believe these factually inaccurate statements, the shares are relatively high. For example, in the United States, anti-vaccination sentiment is considered both a public health and security risk. Yet, in the US, half as many people (10%) believe that vaccines cause autism and a slightly lower share (46%) were uncertain, according to a January 2020 Gallup survey.


Public sentiment is not entirely negative. Most people (74%) think that vaccines are necessary to protect the health of young people and that they do a good job at preventing the diseases they are intended to prevent (72%). 


However, most people express at least some scepticism or uncertainty towards vaccines. The chart below presents an index of attitudes towards vaccines. Respondents were given 1 point if they reported a pro-vaccine attitude and 0 points if they expressed either uncertainty or a negative attitude towards vaccines. Roughly equal shares of the public have attitudes that tend to be more positive than negative/uncertain and more negative/uncertain than positive. 


Attitudes towards vaccines are reflected in people’s interest in getting a vaccine. If a vaccine was available six months from now 42% would be interested in getting it, 43% would not want the vaccine, and the remainder were either uncertain or refused to answer the question. 


Those that did not want to get the vaccine reported they would not want the vaccine most frequently, because it would not be tested thoroughly enough (40%). 


However, data collected a week later suggest that similar shares would want (38%) and not want (43%) the vaccine if it was available two years from now rather than six months, when presumably the vaccine would be better tested. 


Aside from the lack of testing, scepticism towards vaccines in a variety of forms was also frequently mentioned among those that did not want to get a vaccine. One in seven (14%) reported vaccines cause larger health problems for those who take them, and one in nine (11%) reported that vaccines are not effective at treating disease.

Note: The data on the above chart do not sum to 100 as respondents were allowed to name more than one response.


There is a strong correlation between people’s attitudes towards vaccines and whether or not they would want to get a vaccine if one was available six months from now. The chart below shows the adjusted probability of wanting a vaccine if one were available by the attitude index shown above. Controlling for age, educational attainment, settlement type, and whether or not there were children in the respondent’s household, the results suggest that people who have entirely uncertain or negative attitudes have a 10% chance of wanting a vaccine. By comparison, a person with fully positive attitudes has an 87% chance of wanting a vaccine.


Controlling for attitudes towards vaccines, a number of other factors are associated with whether or not someone would want a vaccine if one were available. Women are 25 percentage points less likely than men to want a vaccine, all else equal. People in Tbilisi are 11 percentage points less likely to want a vaccine than people in other urban areas and 13 percentage points less likely than people in rural areas.


The above data clearly shows that Georgia has a vaccine misinformation problem. This matters for both public health in general as well as for the eventual defeat of COVID-19.


This article was written by Dustin Gilbreath, Deputy Research Director at CRRC Georgia. The views presented in the article are the views of the author alone and do not represent the views of the Embassy of the Netherlands, CRRC Georgia, or any related entity.

13.05.2014 | სამშაბათი

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 | ოთხშაბათი

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.
29.03.2012 | ხუთშაბათი

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 | ორშაბათი

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.
16.12.2019 | ორშაბათი

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.
17.08.2020 | ორშაბათი

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 | სამშაბათი

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.

06.10.2020 | სამშაბათი

Georgian parents are concerned about online learning

Talk about political polarisation in Georgia is easy to find. Some have suggested that the recent United National Movement (UNM) announcement that Saakashvili will be their prime ministerial candidate will only make matters worse.

new data analysis CRRC Georgia released on Tuesday suggests that this may in fact be the case. Data from several years of CRRC Georgia and NDI polling indicates that there are few ideological or policy issues that the supporters of Georgian Dream (GD) and the United National Movement (UNM) disagree about. Rather, attitudes towards politicians and political events are what divides, a fact the public intuitively recognises.

12.10.2020 | ორშაბათი

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 | სამშაბათი

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.