What Does the Data Say: Partisan Divide and Skepticism towards Vaccines in Georgia?

Shota Kakabadze[1]

Just a couple of days ago, the Minister of Health of Georgia remarked that the anti-vaxxer campaign had been defeated and that there was a considerable increase in the demand for vaccines. The latter might be indeed the case, if one takes into consideration how fast most of the available spots  for the Chinese-produced vaccine were booked once this became available for everyone above 18 years old. Since the very start of vaccination programme against COVID-19 in Georgia, the number of citizens who have received at least one dose of the vaccine stands at around 71 570, with an average of 2500-3000 shots being administered daily. Yet, this is still less than what is needed for the Georgian government’s mass immunization plan. In comparison,  Estonia with a population of little more than 1 million, administered 12,919 doses of vaccine in a single day.

As of writing, on the special website launched by the Georgian authorities to keep track of all those willing to get vaccinated, only around 86 000 people ( 2% of the population) are registered. An opinion poll found that Georgia, with only 48% of population willing to get a jab, stands considerably low on the global scale. The NDI opinion poll from February 2021 shows that 53% of respondents said they would not want to be vaccinated and the reason provided by the significant majority of them was that they did not trust the quality of the vaccine. Although the recent Gallup poll paints a more optimistic picture – 56% of Georgians willing to take a COVID-19 vaccine – these numbers are still quite significant and perhaps the reasons are more political than it might seem at first glance.

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