Despite world-level efforts and the endeavors of scientists and medical professionals in suppressing the COVID-19 pandemic, inadequate levels of vaccine literacy of the general population can represent a grave obstacle. The aim of this study was to evaluate COVID-19 vaccine literacy in the Croatian adult general population before vaccination began. The specific objectives were to test differences regarding socio-demographic characteristics and to examine perceptions and attitudes about vaccination against COVID-19 considering the level of VL against COVID-19. A cross-sectional study with a translated and psychometrically tested questionnaire was conducted in 1227 participants before the start of vaccination, from 15 to 31 January 2021. The results show a medium level of vaccine literacy (M = 2.37, SD = 0.54) and a significant difference between functional and interactive-critical vaccine literacy (p < 0.001). The level of vaccine literacy grew with the level of education (p = 0.031) and reduced with age (p < 0.001). Participants who were employed, had chronic diseases, took medicine, or consumed alcohol daily had a lower level of vaccine literacy. There is room for progress in the COVID-19 VL level for the adult population in Croatia, especially at the interactive-critical VL, which could have an important role in people accepting the vaccine against the COVID-19 disease. A satisfactory level of vaccine literacy in the population is necessary because it can contribute to the fight against the pandemic.
Keywords: COVID-19; general population; pandemic; vaccination; vaccine literacy.