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Coronavirus: Two in three Irish people would accept vaccine for themselves or their children

The findings were made as part of a new study into how Ireland is coping with Covid-19.

Image: Shutterstock/CNK02

MORE THAN A third of Irish people say they are unsure if they would accept a potential vaccine for Covid-19 if one was developed, according to a new study.

The study also revealed that mental health issues are common among the Irish population, with significant numbers of people reporting clinically meaningful levels of depression, anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The nationally representative survey of adult citizens was carried out by researchers from Maynooth University and Trinity College Dublin, as well as universities in the North, Scotland and England.

It was launched on 31 March, two days after the government introduced restrictions requiring people to stay at home in order to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Researchers found that only 65% of people indicated that they would accept a Covid-19 vaccine for themselves and their children if one was developed.

A further one in four people said that they might accept a vaccine for themselves and their child. Onne in ten people said they would not.

“Despite encouraging results in terms of people’s knowledge on Covid-19, we found that attitudes towards the uptake of a potential Covid-19 vaccine to be worryingly low,” Dr Frédérique Vallières of Trinity College’s Centre for Global Health said.

“A better understanding of why people might be hesitant to accept a Covid-19 vaccine, if and when it is developed, is required.”

How people are coping

However, the primary focus of the study is to understand how people are responding to, understanding and coping with the ongoing global pandemic.

The survey also asked respondents questions relating to their mental health, in order to obtain a snapshot of any issues facing people across the country before the government’s restrictions became a factor.

It found that mental health problems were common before the government imposed its latest set of restrictions, with more than one in three people (35%) reporting levels of anxiety, depression or stress.

Meanwhile, 41% of people reported feeling lonely; 23% of people reported clinically meaningful levels of depression; 20% reported clinically meaningful levels of anxiety; and 18% reported clinically meaningful levels of post-traumatic stress. 

Women were found to be experiencing higher levels of depression and anxiety, while men are experiencing higher rates of post-traumatic stress.

However, the rates of depression and anxiety found in the study were consistent with a similar survey carried out in February last year.

Dr Philip Hyland of Maynooth University explained that this happened because people were asked about symptoms over the previous two weeks, which did not fully cover the period when the government’s Covid-19 restrictions were in place.

“We need to bear in mind that for conditions like depression and generalised anxiety disorder, you wouldn’t expect to see it issues kicking in for at least two or three weeks,” he told TheJournal.ie.

“Our plan in this project is to get a snapshot of demand and to see what Ireland’s mental health looks like right now, right at the start [of the pandemic].”

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Second survey

The researchers aim to launch a second survey in May, which will help them examine what effect the prolonged quarantine and physical distancing measures have on people’s mental health and wellbeing.

Hyland says that this will allow the researchers to get a sense as to whether or not mental health problems increase as a result of the pandemic.

However, he also suggests there are some things that those experiencing mental health difficulties can do to help themselves while the outbreak continues.

“30 minutes of vigorous exercise, three times a week is, empirically shown to be as effective as ameliorating depression,” he says.

“And if you want a really easy way to feel better, try and find a way to help other people if you can. You can go to the shops for somebody and do their shopping, or – if you’re in a position to - give some money to people.

“The psychological literature is clear on this: if you want to feel better do something for other people.”

The research team are currently preparing scientific papers on their findings, which will be released as soon as possible. The findings of the next wave of the study will be delivered next month.

If you need to talk, support is available:

  • Samaritans 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.ie
  • Aware 1800 80 48 48 (depression, anxiety)
  • Pieta House 1800 247 247 or email mary@pieta.ie (suicide, self-harm)
  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 19)
  • Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s) 

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