What is 'Vaccine Hesitancy'? How should it be addressed?
Vaccine hesitancy is defined by PubMed as the "delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccination despite availability of vaccination services." As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to take our world by storm, it’s apparent that vaccine hesitancy is at its height as well. First and foremost, it is incredibly important that we ask those in our lives who are vaccine hesitant this question respectfully—"Why?". In this technology and social media era, misinformation runs rampant. It is important to address this misinformation and guide those who have been affected by this misinformation to truth and medical fact. The American Medical Association details how a physician may address a patient’s vaccine hesitancy. Many of those tactics—respectfully asking why, counter misinformation, and gently inform the importance of getting the vaccine—can be used by an everyday individual as well.
Types of Vaccine-Hesitant Individuals:
In a New York Times article, Sema K. Sgaier highlights in their OpEd that in the United States, there are approximately four types of vaccine-hesitant individuals: the Watchful, the Cost-Anxious, the System Distrusters, and the Covid-19 Skeptics. First, the “Watchful” hold out in hopes of seeing how family, friends, and others in the community react to the vaccine first before they commit. Secondly, the “Cost-Anxious” worry about time spent and the possible expenses of getting vaccinated, although in most cases, COVID-19 vaccination is free. Third, there are the “System Distrusters”; these individuals believe the health care system is untrustworthy and have known it to be discriminatory toward them. Fourth and last, there are “Covid Skeptics'' who believe that the global pandemic in its entirety is not a real concern and tend to promote countless conspiracy theories surrounding the pandemic.
All four types of vaccine hesitant individuals have very different reasonings for hesitating to vaccinate against COVID-19. However, one fact rings true—the science behind said vaccines is solid. The COVID-19 vaccines are safe. There is plenty of research that has been published locally, nationally, and globally proving the safety of the vaccines. This research is as close as the click of a button. Furthermore, the vaccines are almost always free. Many clinics and drugstores will do free vaccinations without a need to prove insurance or access to healthcare. Finally, the COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating—it is not a hoax as it has time and time again taken over our world and devastated many families.
Educating and Trusting!
To conclude, it is important that we continuously educate ourselves and loved ones regarding the science and research that supports these COVID-19 vaccines. By trusting science and one another, we can hope to move past this pandemic and step into a world of something close to normalcy.