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Study: Vaccine Hesitancy is Predictable

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Tuesday, September 14, 2021   

LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- A new study showed people who do not have a close friend or family member who has experienced a run-in with COVID-19 are more likely to express vaccine hesitancy than those who know someone who has been sick.

Jagdish Khubchandani, public health sciences professor at New Mexico State University, one of the researchers to probe vaccine hesitancy and reasons for it, said study participants were asked if someone in their social circle had been infected, hospitalized or died due to COVID-19.

"And those who said yes are more likely to accept a vaccine," Khubchandani reported. "So those who do not know anyone who has died in family or friends or hospitalized are two times more likely to deny a vaccine."

The study was published last week in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. It included 1,600 participants, with about 80% reporting they received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Of the remaining participants, 10% said they planned to get it, while 11% said they would not.

Khubchandani said vaccine refusal in the study group was higher among non-Hispanic Black people, political conservatives, independent-leaning voters, suburban dwellers, people with less than a college education and non-married individuals.

He believes hesitancy has been caused in part due to inconsistent messaging from the federal government about vaccines and about wearing masks.

"Vaccine hesitancy is a very complicated topic," Khubchandani acknowledged. "I've always said global health crises are also information and communication crises. We have no strategy to deal with the issue."

The Biden administration has avoided vaccine mandates until last week, when it announced vaccinations or proof of weekly testing will be required for federal government employees, including those in the health-care sector.


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