The study examines the willingness to be vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine using a random sample of the general population and its determinants (perceived risks of disease, perceived side effects and general attitudes towards vaccination, trust in institutions, socio-structural factors, influence of social reference groups).
The study was based on a telephone, one-topic population survey (n=2,014) on willingness to be vaccinated (before the approval of a COVID-19 vaccine in Germany in November/December 2020).
The willingness to be vaccinated was about 67% and increased with the proportion of peers and acquaintances who were willing to be vaccinated and had trust in the Robert Koch Institute; willingness was higher in members of a risk group, and in cases where there was an expectation of dangerous consequences of an infection. Experience with infection among the respondents or in peer-groups increased the willingness to be vaccinated. Men had a higher willingness to be vaccinated. The willingness to be vaccinated increased consistently with the level of formal education (with the exception of people with a technical college entrance qualification). Overestimating the likelihood of severe side effects of influenza vaccinations reduced the willingness to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Findings of considerable overestimations of the frequency of serious vaccination side effects were striking.
Implications for a target group-appropriate information campaign and risk communication are derived. Efforts to promote the willingness of the population to be vaccinated should focus in particular on disadvantaged population groups.

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