The Rundown

Vaccine hesitancy, for various reasons, still a problem

By: - July 25, 2022 3:45 am

SEATTLE, WA – MAY 13: Gavin Smits, 12, receives a first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Harborview Medical Center on May 13, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. The hospital began vaccinating children aged 12-15 following approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

An Ohio State University researcher found vaccine hesitancy is still an issue, for various reasons, beyond even the COVID-19 pandemic.

Specifically, the seasonal flu vaccine, which the CDC recommends people receive by the end of October every year, has seen reduced use among adults in the U.S., according to the study done by OSU-Newark Assistant Professor Jennifer Kowalsky, and recently published in “Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being.”

The study was conducted through three surveys done over nearly two years, and more than 3,000 participants in total.

Kowalsky found that younger people had more “vaccine-related fears” and more symptoms of dizziness and lightheadedness during and after a flu shot. The study posed a possible solution in future vaccine experiences decreasing fear, but showed other possible reasons for young people to be hesitant.

“It is also possible that younger adults are reporting more fear in part due to greater susceptibility to misinformation,” Kowalsky wrote.

Misinformation has been a struggle for public health officials all throughout the pandemic, and something that has been verified to decrease the likelihood for some to receive a vaccine. Anti-vaccination legislation has also been brought to the Ohio legislature.

Most recently, the Ohio Ballot Board allowed anti-vaccination groups to gather signatures for a ballot initiative that, if passed, would make the state the first in the nation to ban vaccination mandates.

Those fears and symptoms of the fears lowered people’s intentions to get the vaccine again, Kowalsky’s study found. The fears stemming from flu vaccine experiences carried over when patients were deciding whether or not to get the COVID-19 vaccine as well.

“It is possible that because the vaccines that protect against COVID-19 are new, uptake of COVID-19 vaccines was more readily influenced by past vaccine experience,” Kowalsky wrote in the study.

Decreasing wait times and training vaccine providers “to build rapport” were given as recommendations for reducing vaccine hesitation.

Follow OCJ Reporter Susan Tebben on Twitter.

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Susan Tebben
Susan Tebben

Susan Tebben is an award-winning journalist with a decade of experience covering Ohio news, including courts and crime, Appalachian social issues, government, education, diversity and culture. She has worked for The Newark Advocate, The Glasgow Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.

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