Press Portal

How can the willingness to be vaccinated be increased among the population?

COVID-19: New study shows which strategies governments can use to achieve “herd immunity”

Vaccinations represent the most important and most promising tool in the fight against the coronavirus. It is estimated that at least 60 to 70 percent of the population will have to be vaccinated in order to be able to stop the coronavirus pandemic. However, the latest surveys indicate that this target will probably not be reached in many countries, since many people have concerns about being vaccinated or are even rejecting vaccinations altogether. 

Governments are therefore faced with the question as to which strategies they can pursue in order to increase the willingness to be vaccinated among their populations.

In an experiment, a research team from the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HU) and the Berlin Social Science Center(WZB) – financed by the Scripts Cluster of Excellence in Berlin – has tested the influence that different strategies have on people’s willingness to be vaccinated.

Three strategies were investigated: 

  • Vaccinated people regaining liberties
  • Financial incentives 
  • Vaccinations being given by family doctors

20,500 people across Germany were interviewed for this purpose as part of a representative survey of the population.

The figures from the study make it clear that various strategies for increasing willingness to be vaccinated could also be of great relevance in Germany.

Only about 67 percent of those surveyed are willing to be vaccinated or have already been vaccinated. A further 17 percent are undecided, and 16 percent outright refuse to be vaccinated.

The results of the study show that all three strategies investigated (vaccinated people regaining liberties, financial incentives and vaccinations being given by family doctors) are able to increase the population’s willingness to be vaccinated.

It is within the undecided group where the willingness to be vaccinated can be increased most noticeably: each of the three strategies on its own can increase the willingness to be vaccinated by around five percentage points; in combination, they can do so by up to 13 percentage points even. By contrast, the three strategies exhibit almost no effect in the group of people opposed to vaccination.

It can also be seen that the three strategies meet with varying degrees of success among different groups of the population. While the willingness to be vaccinated among older respondents is primarily increased by offering vaccination at one’s family doctor, younger respondents are especially able to be convinced by the prospect of more freedom as a result of being vaccinated.

A financial incentive can also noticeably increase people’s willingness to be vaccinated, although the level of the payment definitely plays a role. An effect is only able to be seen if the amount is sufficiently high (50 euros), while a sum that is too small (25 euros) is scarcely considered important.


By using suitable strategies, governments can markedly increase the willingness among the population to get vaccinated. In the near future, such increases may become a decisive component when it comes to vaccinating enough citizens so as to be able to establish herd immunity and put a stop to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Further information

The study was funded by the Scripts (“Contestations of the Liberal Script”) Berlin Cluster of Excellence, one of the seven Berlin Clusters of Excellence funded by the federal and state governments as part of the Excellence Strategy.

Read more about Scripts


Klüver, H., Hartmann, F., Humphreys, M., Geissler, F., & Giesecke, J. (2021, May 9). What incentives can spur Covid-19 vaccination uptake? Retrieved from


Prof. Dr Heike Klüver
Professor and Head of Comparative Political Behaviour
Department of Social Sciences, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin  

Press contact

Hans-Christoph Keller
Press Spokesperson, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin 
Communications, Marketing and Events Department     

Phone: 030-2093-12710