Israel is going to great effort and expense to procure enough COVID-19 vaccinations to inoculate the entire population. But the vast majority of Israeli Jews and Arabs say they will definitely not volunteer to go first, and a sizable percentage insist they will refuse the vaccine under any circumstances.
A poll conducted by the University of Haifa just a week before Israel was scheduled to begin its mass vaccination drive found that only 20.3% of Israeli Jews and just 16% of Israeli Arabs would be lining up to get the shot.
Men in both ethnic groups (27.3% Jews, 22.8% Arabs) were more willing to go first, while both Jewish and Arab women were far more skeptical, with just 13.6% of Jewish and 12.2% of Arab women willing to do the same.
In fact, a surprising 41.2% of Arab women said they would refuse the new COVID-19 vaccine under any circumstances, while just 7.7% of Jewish men, 29.4% of Israeli Arab men and 17.2% of Jewish women said the same.
Among the latter three groups (Jewish men, Arab men, and Jewish women), a strong plurality said they would be vaccinated, but only after thousands of others had first taken the shot. Many Israelis remain concerned that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were developed and brought to market so quickly, when vaccines typically take many years to reach that point.
Health official are urging the government to launch a campaign to better inform the public regarding the safety of the vaccine, or risk wasting its herculean efforts to bring the drug to the Jewish state so quickly.