Coronavirus vaccine hesitancy among unvaccinated Austrians

Tanja Stamm, Julia Partheymüller, Erika Mosor, Valentin Ritschl, Sylvia Kritzinger, Jakob-Moritz Eberl

Background: To date, Austria is among the countries with the lowest coronavirus vaccination rates in Western Europe. It has announced the introduction of a general vaccine mandate but is experiencing an increasing societal polarization over this issue. We, therefore, aimed to provide evidence on the underlying motivations of vaccine hesitancy and evaluate what kinds of interventions - information, incentives, and rules - might increase vaccination readiness.

Method: We conducted a cross-sectional survey with a sample of 1,543 unvaccinated Austrian residents in October 2021, including two embedded conjoint experiments.

Findings: We screened 8,190 individuals to recruit the sample matching the Austrian micro-census. In experiment 1, easing rather than tightening of societal restrictions, a fixed monetary reward compared to a lottery and physicians' recommendations were associated with significantly higher intentions to get vaccinated. In experiment 2, standard approval by European or national authorities and simple information had a significant positive effect on vaccination propensity. Among the unvaccinated, fear of side effects, beliefs that comorbidities or the desire to have children would not allow vaccination, the assumption that the own immune system would provide sufficient protection, conspirational thinking (e.g., the refusal to participate in a 'large genetic experiment'), low trust in societal institutions, and spiritual beliefs were very common.

Interpretation: While many unvaccinated showed a low propensity to become vaccinated, we identified a cluster of 195 (23% of the participants without missing values) that could potentially be reached by information and incentives, including people with heightened comorbidity rates or a desire for children.

Funding: Vienna Science and Technology Fund.

Institut für Staatswissenschaft, Institut für Publizistik- und Kommunikationswissenschaft
Externe Organisation(en)
Medizinische Universität Wien
The Lancet Regional Health - Europe
Anzahl der Seiten
ÖFOS 2012
504007 Empirische Sozialforschung, 303011 Gesundheitspolitik
ASJC Scopus Sachgebiete
Health policy, Oncology, Internal Medicine
Sustainable Development Goals
SDG 3 – Gesundheit und Wohlergehen
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