One out of five Americans hesitant to take the COVID-19 vaccine, study finds

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EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — A new study found that 22 percent of Americans are hesitant about taking the COVID-19 vaccine and predicts that sociodemographic groups are less likely to get the vaccination.

Dr. Jagdish Khubchandani, Public Health professor at New Mexico State University and author of the study, said there are several interesting findings in the research.

“This is a new breed of people refusing the vaccine, this is not the traditional anti-vaxxers,” said Khubchandani, explaining “maybe they are [skeptical] about the speed of development and that it was produced under political pressure.”

He said one of the biggest setbacks in fighting the pandemic was the politicization of the pandemic.

The population identifying with Republican political affiliation is less likely to take the vaccine, according to the study.

Khubchandani explained that the political division is drawing back the progress in fighting the pandemic which, he said, should be a collective goal.

“We are in this together,” he said, adding how each individual is responsible for protecting themselves and, reciprocally, others by taking all precautions possible, including the vaccine.

He said he understands the skepticism coming from the population unwilling to take the vaccine and puts the root of the issue on communication.

“It’s a natural instinct of reaction of being scared,” he said, but to overcome the fear, he said more transparency and straight-forward communication about the effects of the vaccine should be implemented.

The study also suggests that ethnic minorities were more likely to be hesitant in taking the vaccine: 34 percent of the African-American population and 29 percent of Hispanics stated they would not get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Khubchandani said this skepticism is rooted in a history of minorities being mistreated or exploited within the health care system.

Another interesting finding of the research is that Caucasian women with children are most likely to be vaccine-hesitant.

“You have to look a the family structure. Women are more concerned about their family, they have children to take care of. They might be thinking, ‘if I die, who will take care of my family and my child?'” said Khubchandani.

The most likely to accept the vaccine are unemployed and those who lost their job, the study suggests.

“It was also found in another study in Israel that those who lost a job in Israel are most likely to accept the vaccine because maybe that’s the only hope they have to get back to work,” said Khubchandani.

According to the CDC, vaccination is one of the greatest public health achievements in the 20th century, which is why he finds it strange that, in the past several years, vaccine hesitancy has become one of the greatest public health threats, per the World Health Organization.

“Our vaccine rollout has been a disaster,” Khubchandani said, adding that could be one of the reasons why distrust is an issue.

He explained that the scientific and commercial side of the vaccine production has been very successful, but the social part needs to be improved.

“[We have to] change the way we do our communications and coordination,” he said, adding how this study provides information on which groups need to be targeted for better information distribution.

He said that in order to get the pandemic under control, we need at least more than 75 percent of the population to get vaccinated.

The entire study is published online and can be read here.

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