Health professionals around the world are encouraging people to get vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine once available and eligible. However, communities are faced with increased rates of vaccine hesitancy, which may deter goals to get a certain percentage of the population vaccinated. This week’s readings explore views from around the world of vaccine hesitancy and how to address it.
Vaccine Hesitancy in the United States
Multiple studies have focused on different influencing factors affecting individuals’ intentions to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Each group of researchers argue that public health messaging strategies should address these factors to increase levels of vaccination. One study of more than 1,000 Americans found that a high incidence of side effects, co-pay, or Emergency Use Authorization deterred people from being vaccinated, and therefore, those areas must be addressed. A cross-sectional survey of adults from Miami, New York, and San Francisco determined that vaccine hesitant individuals were more likely to have the following characteristics: Black race, lower income, inattention to COVID-19 news, satisfaction with health, and access to health care. Public health officials should consider these characteristics when designing messages. In a study of New York Haredi-Orthodox Jews, researchers found those most vaccine hesitant included people who believed natural infection was better than vaccination and those who lost trust in physicians during the pandemic. The authors argue that in communities with high rates of COVID-19, tailored messages should come from knowledgeable religious community leaders.
Vaccine Hesitancy around the World
A group of researchers conducted a mixed-methods study of pregnant women in Ireland to learn about their attitude towards the COVID-19 vaccine. They found that roughly the same number of women (~40%) were at one extreme or the other in their intent to get vaccinated. The primary factor influencing their decision was safety of their unborn child. The researchers argue that communication targeted at pregnant women must address safety, and having health care providers engage in shared decision-making will be important for choosing best options for each woman.
When assessing parents’ intention to get their children vaccinated against COVID-19, this health survey study of German parents found that only half of parents intended to vaccinate their children. Predictors for intention to get a child vaccinated included stronger confidence in one’s knowledge about prevention measures and lower beliefs that policy measures were exaggerated. The authors suggest targeting people who are considered low-risk for COVID-19 with motivational campaigns addressing these intention predictors. Comprehensive and tailored communication and education is needed.
This online study of Indian people found evidence for the use of theoretical constructs from the Theory of Reasoned Action and the Health Belief Model for effective public health campaigns and educational programs. To decrease vaccine hesitancy, public health and government officials should focus on the impact and severity of COVID-19 on public health, the benefits achieved from the COVID-19 vaccine, and the positive attitudes and intentions peers have towards the vaccine.
Researchers who conducted this cross-sectional study in Turkey found that vaccine hesitant individuals were more likely to believe conspiracy theories and less likely to fear COVID-19. Understanding these psychological factors related to vaccine hesitancy is important so that accurate information can be communicated to increase understanding and willingness to be vaccinated.
In this study of people from Jordan, the researchers found that although the majority of participants believed in the science for the COVID-19 vaccination and thought a vaccine would end the pandemic, slightly more than half did not think they had adequate information on the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination. The most commonly cited reason for refusing to be vaccinated was because of the belief that developing immunity naturally was best. The authors recommend developing educational television and social media-based campaigns to better inform people of the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination for reaching herd immunity.
In this commentary on a survey study of the UK general population, the author argues that additional brief statements about COVID-19 vaccination might be effective in the most strongly hesitant people if the messages address individual benefit-risk balance. Statements about collective benefits of vaccination or seriousness of the pandemic did not affect vaccine-hesitant attitudes.