site.btaMost Roma in Bulgaria Do Not Trust COVID Vaccines, Just 4% Vaccinated
The rate of COVID-19 vaccination coverage in Roma communities in Bulgaria is extremely low, largely due to а high level of distrust in COVID vaccines, according to a survey conducted by the Open Society Institute - Sofia in December 2021, and financed by the Public Health Programme of the Open Society Foundations. The study covers five Roma neighbourhoods in the towns of Montana (Northwestern Bulgaria), Kyustendil (Western Bulgaria), Sliven and Nova Zagora (Central Bulgaria) and Maglizh (South Central Bulgaria).
Less than 4% of the respondents said they are vaccinated with at least a single dose. Another 5% of the interviewees said they were ready to get a jab, while another 5% were hesitant. Most of the respondents claimed they would never get vaccinated against coronavirus, even if the vaccines became mandatory. А minority of respondents said they would get vaccinated if this was required for travel abroad or by their employer.
The survey found that conspiracy theories are very widespread in Roma neighbourhoods. A total of 83% consider at least one conspiracy theory credible and believe in it. All the major anti-vax conspiracies and theories have currency among the respondents. In contrast, official health information is relatively less known and is approved by а very small group of Roma.
Approximately two thirds of respondents think that COVID vaccines pose a greater health risk than other vaccines. Half of respondents believe that COVID vaccines contain harmful substances, cause infertility or sterility and do not lower the mortality risk when one is infected. Some 38% of those interviewed believe they will have microchips implanted secretly if they get vaccinated. Fewer than one in four (24%) do not believe such claims.
The general trust in information about coronavirus is extremely low among the Roma. Most respondents said they do not trust anyone when it comes to COVID vaccines. Their main sources of information about the infection are general practitioners, television, the internet, and pastors. A considerable proportion of respondents said they do not lack information about the COVID vaccines but are rather confused by the flood of information on the topic.
The survey is representative of the households in the five neighbourhoods where it was conducted and does not claim that it reflects the general situation in Roma communities in Bulgaria. However, the survey covers a wide range of public attitudes to the COVID-19 vaccines, which correspond to the general information known from research literature on the subject. This gives great confidence that the attitudes registered by the survey represent a credible picture of the situation in the rest of the Roma communities in Bulgaria, and to a large extent in the entire population.