One-third of the population supports the immunization process or is still thinking, while every fifth respondent is already convinced of the “counter” process that is common, according to a survey conducted by the Institute of Health and Food Safety Zenica (in Bosnian: INZ) in early February.
The survey results will be used to explore communication strategies and promotional activities in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and the questions in the anonymous survey were made according to the Covid-19 Vaccination Plan of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH).
According to INZ data, out of almost 38.000 people who were informed about the survey itself, all answers were given by 1.712 people who are residents of the Zenica-Doboj Canton (ZDC).
“We aimed to assess attitudes about vaccination against Covid-19 among citizens of ZDC, to identify the main sources of information, shortcomings in the flow of information, and the most trusted sources when it comes to placing information related to existing vaccines and their effectiveness,” said Nino Hasanica, the coordinator of the Internal Crisis Staff for Health and Educational Activities of the INZ during the pandemic.
Among respondents, when asked if they would receive the Covid-19 vaccine when it became available, the most common answers were “definitely YES” – 29.2 percent and “definitely NO” – 21.1 percent. They are followed by “Probably YES” – 20.3 percent, “I’m not sure” – 16.3 percent, and “Probably NO” – 13.3 percent.
When asked on which kind of information the vaccination decision depends on, the most common answer among as many as 1.125 respondents was “That the vaccine has been in use for a longer period”, while 469 people support vaccination “If the vaccine is being used in other countries”.
Among the interesting answers in the survey is that as many as 30.4 percent of all 1.712 respondents believe that the vaccine should be mandatory, while 23.6 percent completely exclude this option.
Furthermore, almost 60 percent of respondents think or believe (completely or partially) that after vaccination they will be able to avoid at least some of the current measures (which are related to the public gatherings, group stays, protective equipment…).
As a source for obtaining reliable and verified information, respondents most often suggest health workers from the public health system (816) or health workers from family medicine (695).
Finally, when being asked about the general opinion about vaccines, for example, seasonal flu, vaccines given to children and similar, almost three-quarters (74.3 percent) of all respondents have a completely or partially positive opinion, while 10 percent of them have a negative opinion about vaccines.
When it comes to age, most of the respondents are between 18 and 30 years old (30.8 percent), 31 to 40 years old (28.5 percent), and 41-50 years old (23.7 percent), as the INZ announced.
Respondents most often mentioned a specialized education or university (51.5 percent) and a four-year high school (27.1 percent) as their education. There were 68.8 percent employed and 18.4 percent unemployed. Respondents most often mentioned a city (61 percent) or a suburban settlement (22.8 percent) as their place of residence, BHRT writes.
The beginning of mass immunization in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), as things stand, will largely take place with the Russian vaccine. It is the primary vaccine in the Republika Srpska (RS), and now it will also be in the Federation of BiH (FBiH) after the government decides to procure half a million doses of Sputnik V.
Such a scenario was not initially expected. Although each vaccine is useful and desirable, the hopes and desires were to provide so-called Western vaccines (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, etc), ie to adhere to the standards and recommendations of the European Union (EU). Why this is not the case in practice is a question that needs to be answered.
The Russian vaccine Sputnik V is the first to be launched on the market and was registered in Russia at the end of August 2020. At that time, we heard messages from our country that the first option when it comes to purchasing vaccines will be what is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and generally the vaccine that gets chosen by the EU.
This was confirmed last summer by the Assistant Minister of Health of the FBiH, Goran Cerkez, and later by many others, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs Bisera Turkovic. Such an attitude was completely justified given the majority aspirations of this country towards Western values, towards the EU, NATO, and everything that comes with that type of integration.
Such a commitment was even emphasized in the official documents for the immunization plan: ”It is also needed to point out that the Government of the FBiH and the Federal Ministry of Health are committed that vaccines to be used in the FBiH must be registered with the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which applies high safety standards within the regular or urgent approval of placing on the market, more precisely the use of medicines. All vaccines that will be used in the FBiH must have a marketing authorization issued by the EMA, ” the document stated.
So what happened in the practice?
During the fight for vaccines, leaving aside the indolence of the state level, which relied exclusively on the COVAX mechanism, the procurement of “Western” vaccines on the market is much more complex than, for example, Russian ones.
What have ambassadors from Western countries done to facilitate the flow of information and connections to enable a country like BiH to buy at least a symbolic part of Pfizer or AstraZeneca? Also, the laziness and initial disinterest of BiH officials, which further complicated the situation, should not be forgotten.
Nevertheless, in the moments of the global fight for health, in a game that countries like BiH cannot win without the help of the “big brother”, and that brother was supposed to be the West that this country has been striving for years, a slightly different approach was expected. In that regard, a Russian candidate for the fight of the coronavirus appeared on the scene. It was Russia that is fighting an uncontrolled battle with the West in this area in geopolitical terms when it comes to influencing.
Thus, despite the initial will, hopes, and waiting for Western vaccines, BiH still decided differently, and in the moments when we let all chances slip by, we quickly decided to buy the vaccine that is the most available on the market, and that is Russian. The RS entity decided that a long time ago, and on Tuesday it was also confirmed by the FBiH, by Prime Minister Fadil Novalic.
Now, it can be expected that the story of travel restrictions be brought to the surface for those who have been vaccinated with a vaccine that has not been approved by the EMA, such as the Russian or Chinese one, which will be massively used in BiH, Klix.ba writes.