Research on Vaccine hesitancy and why it is happening

Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 1:00 PM CDT
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - If you’ve been following the Wyoming Covid numbers, you’ll know that this state has struggled to get past that 34 percent mark in vaccinations. Wyoming’s confirmed cases sit at 59,938 confirmed cases and 835 deaths.

If we look nationally at the end of 2020, the United States surpassed 20 million infections from SARS-CO-V-2, or Covid-19, and more than 346, 000 thousand deaths.

Globally, infections rose to over 83,000,000, and over 1,000,000 deaths, according to the American Journal of Managed Care.

Over a year and a half later, we are still dealing with Covid and the more contagious variants it has created.

We spoke with UW Economics Ph.D. student Madison Ashworth to understand a little about her research vaccine hesitancy.

When people were asked about their reasons for their vaccine hesitancy, they said...

" Across the board in Wyoming and Nationwide... the novelty, the side effects, and the safety,” said Ashworth.

According to Ashworth’s research, the hesitancy also has to do with inconsistent messages from authorities.

“We also did find that some inconsistent risk messages did matter for Covid vaccine hesitancy. If one source said Covid was very high and one source downplayed that risk, we did see that decrease in vaccine acceptance,” said Ashworth.

Her team has also researched which messages were most effective whether vaccine benefit versus public safety was most persuasive.

“The safety message was least effective one....And the most effective message in our survey was the private health benefit message. Explaining the health benefits to you was the most effective message,” said Ashworth.

The research team surveyed over 3000 people nationwide, with a sub-population of 300 Wyomingites.

“We found that no information messages had any kind of effect. Vaccine rates in Wyoming were especially sticky. They weren’t going to be swayed by any of these information campaigns, like we might see some movement nationwide,” said Ashworth. “Wyoming residents dont see Covid-19 as big of a threat. They dont see Covid-19 as severe enough to warrant a vaccination,” said Ashworth.

The FDA approval may help alleviate some concerns, and vaccination numbers in the state will ultimately show if this has any effect.

“I think understanding that scientist have been working on this type of vaccine, a SARS Covid vaccine, for a long time. I think that would help alleviate some concerns,” said Ashworth.

Ashworth also found that when the effects of Covid directly impacted people, IE: family, or friends, contracted the illness, they were more apt to get the vaccine.

Ashworth’s next steps in her research intend to look at misinformation from various sources and Covid.

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