MADRID (Reuters) - The number of Spaniards willing to receive COVID-19 vaccine shots as soon as they become available rose to over 40% in the latest official poll published on Monday, from 37% in a previous survey a month ago.
While 28% of respondents in the survey by the Centre for Sociological Studies (CIS) said they would not take the vaccine immediately, that was a sharp drop from 47% in a previous CIS poll published on Nov. 18 that asked the same question.
Following a new increase in infections over the past two weeks, another 16.2% of survey respondents said they would be willing to be vaccinated if the shot "has guarantees, if it is tested, if it is reliable."
The survey was carried out on Dec. 1-9 among 3,800 people.
Spain has been among the European countries hit hardest by the pandemic. The infection rate measured over the past 14 days rose to 224 per 100,000 on Monday, from 214 on Friday.
A further 22,013 new cases were identified over the weekend and 334 more people died, the Health Ministry said.
"We expect the trend to rise in the coming days and that should worry us," Health Secretary Silvia Calzon told a news conference.
She said Spain would administer its first vaccinations in nursing homes.
The EU drug regulator on Monday gave approval for the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech after the shot was authorised in several countries.
A voluntary vaccination campaign is expected to start on Dec. 27 and cover up to 20 million people by May or June 2021.
(Reporting by Emma Pinedo, additional reporting by Andrei Khalip; Editing by Susan Fenton)