Why do people hesitate to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in Switzerland?

This blogpost is based on the study “Reasons for not getting vaccinated against COVID-19 in German-speaking Switzerland” which is available as a preprint under 10.31234/osf.io/hnzke.

Vaccination against COVID-19 is underway in Switzerland, with approximately 78 doses administered per 100 people in Switzerland [1]. Getting vaccinated will help protect ourselves and others, and help things get back to normal [2].

In our weekly survey we have been asking people 16-80 years old in Switzerland whether they plan to get vaccinated. In the most recent week (21.06.-27.06.), 70% said they have already been vaccinated, 8.4% are willing to be vaccinated, while 6.8% are undecided, and 14.8% are not willing to be vaccinated [3].

To learn more about the reasons why people hesitate to be vaccinated, we conducted an online survey among people age 16-60 in German-speaking regions of Switzerland between 5-16 May 2021. Among 1191 people who had not yet been vaccinated and who were hesitant to do so, we asked them why they did not want to be vaccinated. A list of 17 different reasons for not getting vaccinated based on previous research was provided for people to choose from. We also gave people the opportunity to select “other” and write in another reason.

We found that worries about the side-effects, safety, and effectiveness of the vaccines were the more common reasons for not wanting to get vaccinated. Other people gave reasons such as being healthy, or that they wanted to build immunity naturally. While others said they would decide later or wanted more information. It was less common for people to be worried about the vaccines serving another purpose or believing that COVID-19 was not a real threat. Very few people had religious concerns, or not enough time to be vaccinated. The full list of reasons is shown below with the percent of people that selected each reason (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Reasons against a Covid 19 vaccination among 16-60-year-old vaccine-critical persons from German-speaking Switzerland.
Reading example: 19% of respondents stated that they do not get vaccinated because they are “generally against vaccinations”.

In an additional analysis, we found that some of the reasons people gave tended to be grouped together. Such that one group of people tended to say they were hesitant due to safety, side-effect, and effectiveness concerns related to the vaccine. Another group tended to say they were hesitant due to believing they were not at a risk, preferring to build immunity naturally, and not perceiving COVID-19 as a real threat. A third group gave reasons related to not having made a decision yet, such that they wanted more information and would decide later.

Most of the reasons that people gave for not being vaccinated reflect misperceptions.
For more information see:

COVID-19 vaccine side effects, myths, and questions

INFOVAC for more information on vaccination


  1. COVID-⁠19 Switzerland | Coronavirus | Dashboard; 2021 [updated 2021 Jun 14; cited 2021 Jun 14]. Available from: https://www.covid19.admin.ch/en/overview.

  2. Protect yourself and others. Why vaccinate? – Protect yourself and others; 2021 [updated 2021 Jun 17; cited 2021 Jun 23]. Available from: https://foph-coronavirus.ch/vaccination/why-vaccinate/.

  3. Covid-Norms | Monitoring and Analyzing Preventive Behavior; 2021 [updated 2021 June 29; cited 2021 June 29]. Available from: https://covid-norms.ch/en/.

Representativeness of the data

Our online survey was conducted among the Swiss-German speaking regions, among 16-60 year olds, and among those who were vaccine hesitant, thus the findings are not generalizable to other groups (e.g., older than 60 years, no internet access).

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