Science

Covid-19: Over 50% of US citizens unwilling to get vaccinated under emergency authorisation

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on December 15, 2020

The study, "Willingness to Get the Covid-19 Vaccine with and without Emergency Use Authorisation," is published in the American Journal of Infection Control.   -  REUTERS

The study finds that concerns about side effects were a significant barrier

The first batch of Covid-19 vaccine has received emergency use authorisation in the United States. Yet the doubt whether US citizens are willing to get inoculated lingers.

Hence, a new study led by a Virginia Commonwealth University professor intended to examine the psychological and social predictors of US adults' willingness to get a future Covid-19 vaccine and whether these predictors differ under an emergency use authorisation release of the vaccine.

The study, "Willingness to Get the Covid-19 Vaccine with and without Emergency Use Authorisation," is published in the American Journal of Infection Control.

The study involved a survey of 788 US adults and found that 59.9 per cent of respondents were definitely or probably planning to receive a future coronavirus vaccine. In contrast, 18.8 per cent were neutral, and 21.3 per cent were probably or definitely not planning to get it.

When asked if they would get the vaccine under an emergency use authorisation, 46.9 per cent of respondents said they were definitely, likely, or somewhat willing to do so; while 53.1 per cent said they were definitely, likely, or somewhat unwilling to do so.

"The biggest issue coming out of this study is that participants seemed worried about receiving the Covid-19 vaccine under emergency use authorisation," said lead author Jeanine Guidry, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture in the College of Humanities and Sciences and director of the Media+Health Lab at VCU.

Concerns about side effects

The study found that concerns about side effects were a significant barrier, Guidry noted.

"[Such concerns are] not unusual but we now also know that two of the vaccines -- Pfizer and Moderna -- may have some expected side effects ... [and that] may make people hesitate to get the vaccine," she said.

The study suggests that health administration needs to communicate with people about the Covid-19 vaccine concerns and its development and reinforce its benefits.

It also suggests that these efforts may need to go beyond just communications campaigns correcting misinformation about a vaccine to focusing on re-establishing public trust in government agencies and medicine.

"A vaccine is only effective if people are vaccinated, and so it is really crucial that people trust the vaccine, and are willing to get it," Guidry said.

Guidry said: "We will only reach community-level immunity if about 70 per cent of the population has gotten the vaccine. So, knowing what some of the barriers are to getting this vaccine is really important, because we may be able to better communicate and address these concerns."

Guidry added that the study reflects significant concerns and misunderstandings that must be addressed in the months ahead.

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Published on December 15, 2020
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