Why Russians don’t want to get vaccinated against covid | Russia and Russians: A View from Europe | DW

On Thursday, October 21, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin announced the introduction of a hard lockdown, which will begin in a week. From October 28 to November 7, only pharmacies and grocery stores will be open in the Russian capital. Only those vaccinated and recently ill will be allowed to enter museums and theaters. The day before, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on non-working days in the first week of November.

The authorities took such measures in connection with new anti-records for morbidity and mortality from COVID-19 amid low rates of vaccination. What is needed in order for the majority of Russians to take root, and will a lockdown help in this?

Lockdown and compulsory vaccination against the new wave

By October 20, about 32% of the population of Russia had completed the full course of vaccination. This figure also includes those who were vaccinated more than six months ago. Against the background of developed countries, this is one of the lowest indicators. At the same time, officially vaccination in Russia lasts almost a year. In October, morbidity and mortality rates regularly hit anti-records. “In the coming days, we will reach historic peaks in the incidence of covid,” Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin warned on October 21.

Sergei Sobyanin

The impending wave of the pandemic, the authorities are going to bring down the de facto mandatory vaccinations and lockdowns. In many regions, authorities allow only those vaccinated and recently ill to visit crowded places. In Moscow and the Moscow region, from next week, all establishments will be closed, except for pharmacies and grocery stores. Exceptions were made for theaters and museums – it will be possible to get there with a QR code, which indicates vaccination or transferred coronavirus.

It is not surprising that against the background of a new wave of the pandemic in Russia, the voices of those who advocate compulsory vaccination are louder and louder. However, as the FOM found out, Russians are not unanimous about this idea – 47% of the respondents have a positive and negative attitude towards it. At the same time, the majority of them (60%) believe that mass vaccination is needed to fight the coronavirus, only 23% do not see it as necessary.

Distrust of the authorities – mistrust of the vaccine

Until the beginning of summer, the share of people who opposed vaccination among Russians was about 60%, while about 30% were generally ready to get vaccinated. Such data were given by DW director of the Levada Center Denis Volkov. In the summer, there were fewer skeptics, but only slightly. By the end of August, according to the same estimates, 52% of Russian residents refused to be vaccinated. Just in the summer, for example, in Moscow, for two weeks the QR-code regime was in effect, when without them they were not allowed to enter cafes and restaurants. After that, the rate of vaccination began to decline again.

Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and the head physician of the hospital in Kommunarka Denis Protsenko

Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and the head physician of the hospital in Kommunarka Denis Protsenko, June 2021

The Levada Center polls showed that the failure rates until recently were associated with fear of vaccinations against the background of mistrust of the authorities. Volkov notes that the level of critical perception of various power structures is quite high, for example, almost half of the respondents disapprove of the government’s activities.

“We see that among those who have a negative attitude towards the authorities, the percentage of those who are ready to be vaccinated is much lower,” the sociologist points out. “Those who do not trust the authorities, by default, take all its initiatives with hostility. “. Even those who are afraid of contracting coronavirus are afraid of vaccinations, Volkov said.

Explanatory work is needed, not prohibitions

Now about half of the population of Russia in one way or another support the efforts of the authorities in the fight against coronavirus, according to the research holding “Romir”. “We are seeing a polarization of society,” says the president of the holding, Andrei Milekhin. Ed.) further toughens its position. That is why we see so much counter-argument, hype and fake information on the Internet. “

The authorities, according to Milekhin, react to this inadequately: with bans and restrictions. Almost immediately after the outbreak of the pandemic in Russia, in March 2020, the State Duma adopted a law criminalizing violations of sanitary and epidemiological rules and for spreading fakes in an emergency.

“It is practically impossible to try to close or ban all this,” Milekhin believes. According to him, decision-makers need to understand that society is complexly structured, and each group of the population needs to provide arguments that convince representatives of this particular group.

Lockdown will spur vaccinations?

Judging by the data collected by the portal Gogov.ru, in recent days, the level of vaccination is approaching the peak values ​​that were recorded this summer. More than 500 thousand people have been vaccinated daily since October 18. The threat of a lockdown and an increase in the number of restrictions for the unvaccinated in different regions could affect the attitude of Russians to vaccination, believes Denis Volkov of the Levada Center.

Denis Volkov

Denis Volkov

“We saw in our research that a significant proportion of those who were not ready to be vaccinated were waiting for the opportunity to be put in a forced position,” the sociologist explains. “But such measures work if they are consistent and long-term. … Volkov believes that in Europe it is precisely the long and hard lockdown that has largely led to the fact that Europeans are now willingly vaccinating themselves.

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