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Research: People's sense of danger increased drastically at the end of February, and with it the desire to get vaccinated

elanikkonna küsitlus

At the end of February, the number of people wanting to take more serious measures against COVID rose drastically and awareness of the critical nature of the situation increased. At the same time, the share of people vaccinated against COVID-19 and people wanting to be vaccinated increased, according to a survey based on Estonian residents conducted by the market research firm Turu-uuringute AS on behalf of the Government Office at the end of February.

“Three-quarters of the Estonian population considers the current situation to be critical and believes that wrong behaviour could mean an increase in the spread of the virus. This is a very big change compared to the beginning of February, when only half of the participants in the research had this opinion,” said Karin Reivart, research director at the market research firm Turu-uuringute AS. “While two weeks ago a third of Estonians thought that the peak of the crisis was over, but we still have to remain on our guard, last week only eight per cent thought so.”

It is the older people who feel the criticality of the situation the most, 97% of those over the age of 75 consider the situation critical. The sense of danger is the lowest among people between the ages of 15 and 49, of whom about 65% considered the situation critical. Although the sense of danger increased significantly in both ethnic groups – among Estonians by 21% and the residents of other nationalities by 24% – the sense of danger among Estonians is still much higher compared to people of other nationalities. 82% of Estonians and 58% of people from other nationalities considered the situation last week critical. Only 7% of Estonians think that the situation has been overreacted to, compared to 19% of respondents from other nationalities who have this opinion.

“People's attitudes towards restrictions related to the spread of the coronavirus have changed drastically. The share of people who wish for more strict measures is unprecedented,” said Karin Reivart. At the beginning of February, only 10% of people thought that the current measures should definitely be stricter. By the end of the month, the share of these people had almost tripled to 28%, plus 34% of respondents who are more on the side of stricter measures than not. “This is the highest indicator for expectation of stricter measures since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis. In total, more than 60% of the respondents want stricter antiviral measures, only 13% of the respondents support less strict measures,” added Karin Reivart.

At the end of February, only 20% of people considered the current measures sufficient, which is over two times less than at the beginning of the month. At the same time, the number of people who wanted stricter measures doubled (37% → 62%). There was a significant increase in support for restrictions on entertainment establishments, events and also travel – more than half of the Estonian population definitely recommends them to be continued and a total of almost 90% of the population consider these restrictions necessary.

As the sense of danger grows, people's desire to be vaccinated against COVID-19 also grows. In total, almost 70 per cent of the respondents say that they have already been vaccinated (8%) or are ready to be vaccinated (61%). At the beginning of February, the share of these people was 65%. The increase is bigger among the non-Estonian speaking population – at the beginning of February 47% of them were ready to be vaccinated and 3% were vaccinated, at the end of February 50% are ready to be vaccinated and 5% have already been vaccinated. The share of people who would definitely want to get vaccinated has also increased – at the beginning of January, 32% of respondents definitely wanted to be vaccinated, by the end of February it had increased to 37% of respondents. 13% certainly do not want to be vaccinated.

“The slowly but surely growing interest in vaccination is an expected development,” commented Andero Uusberg, a psychologist who is a member of the Research Council for combating COVID-19. “The more people have been vaccinated in Estonia, the more there are those close to them who can already see with their own eyes what the side effects of vaccination are or are not and what a feeling of relief vaccination gives a person.”

At the same time, people's fear of being infected with the coronavirus has not changed significantly compared to previous studies and remains at 70%. The fear of catching the coronavirus somewhere without realising it is higher among older people and lower among younger age groups.

90% of people reckon that they are generally informed or well informed of the measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Compared to the beginning of February, the share of those who consciously and regularly search for information on coronavirus has increased to 56%, as they consider this topic important (+ 5%). Older people feel best informed. Among those over the age of 75, 65% are well informed of the measures. At the same time, among the age group from 15 to 34, only one in three reckons themselves to be generally informed of the measures and 51-58% of them well informed of the measures. 

90% of people say they follow all or most of the official guidelines for preventing the spread of the coronavirus. This figure has remained unchanged since mid-December. While 85% of older people follow these guidelines wherever possible, 60-70% of younger people do so. For example, 29 per cent of 15-24 year olds follow most guidelines.

The main source of information on coronavirus is the Estonian media, with a small difference between ethnic groups. While among Estonians the most popular are ETV news and programs, mentioned by 57% of Estonians as an important source of information and Estonian media websites (Delfi, Postimees, etc.) are in second place, mentioned by 49%, among other nationalities Estonian media portals such as Delfi and Postimees in Estonian and Russian are the most popular (57%). The second most popular are ETV and ETV+ news and programs combined (important for 21% and 19% respectively) and the third is social media (29%). PBK and other Russian TV channels are important for only 11% of Estonian Russians and their importance has decreased twice since the spring during the crisis.

The survey was conducted on behalf of the Government Office and done by Turu-uuringute AS. The 24th wave of the survey was conducted between 26th and 28th February.

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