Throughout the pandemic, public health experts have tried a variety of strategies to increase vaccine uptake and combat concerns around COVID-19 vaccines – but according to a new US survey. States, having a personal contact with someone with COVID-19 may be a better predictor of vaccine consumption than any scientific strategy.
Researchers surveyed more than 1,000 Americans in 2021 whether they had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and outlined their findings in a study published in the journal Vaccines. -please be peer reviewed in January.
Participants were asked if they had any family members or friends who became ill or died from COVID-19.
Research shows that people who have seen a loved one battle COVID-19 or die from the disease are more likely to have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine than those who have not had any close relatives. who are affected by the disease.
“These findings should encourage people to share stories of illness from COVID-19 and experiences of bereavement with friends,” said Irina Grafova, a health economist at Rutgers School of Public Health. and their families as well as through social media because it can motivate people to get vaccinated.” and co-authors of the study, said in a press release on Feb. 3. “It can also help public health professionals design educational strategies to improve calls to action. vaccinations.”
In December 2020, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. The 2021 survey aims to find out who took advantage of the opportunity to get vaccinated in the first few months since the vaccine was released in the United States and who were more hesitant.
The survey was conducted online in April 2021 and included 1,193 respondents who were eligible for the vaccine at the time. The researchers used a research board service called Qualtrics, which is a website that recruits study participants in the United States. Respondents were unaware of the focus of the survey prior to implementation.
The survey allows participants to select multiple options if they know more than one person who has been affected by COVID-19. It also asked participants if they were in the category of “essential workers,” such as healthcare workers, grocery store workers, postal workers, public transport workers or those in need. first responders, to determine if their work affects their vaccine intake.
Of the 1,193 respondents, 698 had received at least one dose of the vaccine, while 495 had not, meaning about 58.5% of those eligible had received one.
However, people with personal experience of someone they know infected with the virus were more likely to have received at least one dose during the study period.
The survey found that about 73% of people who know someone who has died from COVID-19 and 72% of those who know someone who has recovered from COVID-19 have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Research demonstrates that sometimes, “the messenger is more important than the message,” Saurabh Kalra, a doctoral student at Rutgers School of Public Health and lead author of the study, said in a press release. .
She says that hearing about the dangers of COVID-19 from someone you trust can be really important to overcome hesitation or fear, adding that the opposite is also true.
“One corollary of this finding is that an influential public figure that people admire and trust can have a negative impact on public health if they share misinformation such as the disease is harmless or the vaccine is harmful or unnecessary.”
The researchers note that their results do not indicate whether people received the dose before or after their loved one had COVID-19, so it is not known what percentage may have been directly inspired by their loved one’s illness experience. But the correlation suggests that there is some connection, they said.
Paul Duberstein, chair and professor in the department of health behavior, society and policy at the Rutgers School of Public Health and co-author of the study, said in the release that there is often a large social factor. about our health choices, and that decision manufacturers should take into account when developing vaccine campaigns.
“Most health behaviors, including exercise, smoking and drug use, are influenced by peers, so it is not surprising that vaccination also carries sociality. “We need to stop acting as if people make rational decisions about vaccines for themselves based on careful consideration of the evidence.”
Research shows that people under the umbrella of essential workers are also more likely to have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
On the other hand, people with lower incomes and less education are among those least likely to receive at least one dose of the vaccine within the first four months of the vaccine becoming available in the United States. United States, potentially highlighting the people whose public health should be heading for vaccine information campaigns.
“Timely vaccination of all eligible people worldwide is our only hope to end this pandemic before newer variants emerge that could render current vaccinations ineffective. effective,” the study stated in the conclusion.