Experts explain the main reasons for the skepticism of the Covid vaccine


Despite Wales ’great success in vaccinating its population against Covid-19 , some people still choose to delay their appointments or fail to attend at all.

Here Simon Williams and Kimberly Dienes, from Swansea University, explain how skeptical the vaccine is among certain sections of society …

The UK’s vaccination program remains a shining success story amid a pandemic that would otherwise have been plagued by policy errors, including delayed lockdowns and poor border controls.

In Wales the continuation of vaccination is particularly good, with more than two million people receiving their first dose, an estimated one million of them also having a second.

However, there remains a proportion of people who have never been vaccinated and who have never been vaccinated, called ‘Facing the vaccine’. In our research we looked at what vaccine skepticism is and what drives it.

The characteristics of the vaccine are in a continuum, from complete acceptance of one side to complete rejection of the other. Vaccination skepticism and ‘anti-vax’ sentiment are two very different things, and we don’t think skeptics are ‘anti-vax’.

Of course, anti-vax messages on social media can contribute to skepticism, but it’s the reason it’s important that stakeholders know where and how to find credible information about vaccines, such as Public Health. Wales.

It is also important that government and community health authorities work to understand their real concerns about whether it is safe, effective, and whether it is used fairly.

Surprisingly, stopping people from doubting, or trying to over-convince them that they need to be vaccinated without feeling their concerns, can prevent vaccination.

In our work we found so-called ‘Covid echo chambers’. Covid’s policy is particularly divisive. What is needed is a more open dialogue between people with different perspectives, in different echo chambers and communities.

But which communities are most affected by skepticism?

Current data show that, across all age groups, vaccine coverage is significantly lower among black and Asian minority ethnic communities. Likewise, coverage is higher across all age groups among those living in Wales ’poorest communities.

This is a problem, as it means that vaccine coverage is much lower in these groups where there is an overall increased risk of serious side effects of Covid-19.

So, what can be doubted about the vaccine in general, and especially within communities?

First, a major factor is concern over the potential side effects of a Covid-19 vaccine. The recent controversy over the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine and blood is a real cause for doubt. Many of those who are skeptical about side effects know the risk of such side effects is much lower, but for some it is a seed of skepticism, or a preference for a different vaccine.

Second, distrust of the government is a major cause for skepticism about the vaccine. Confidence in how the pandemic was managed in Wales was relatively high compared to the British confidence in managing it in the UK Government.

However, there is a general dissatisfaction with the UK’s policy options and for one of the worst death rates among high-income countries. Likewise, the fact that the death toll is much higher among ethnic minority groups, has been linked to systematic racism.

Third, this lack of trust contributes to conspiracy theories and misinformation to reproduction and spread, further increasing skepticism.

Research suggests that people may be attracted to conspiracy theories when they feel left out of society, perhaps because they have historically received unequal treatment.

Conspiracy theories are often promoted by anti-government groups and therefore may be more attracted to the perceived weakness of the political system.

Other factors that have contributed to vaccine skepticism include a feeling that there is insufficient information about vaccines, that the information is confusing or not stated clearly enough.

However, it is also important to look at some of the factors that promote long association. First, there is a growing societal attitude about vaccination. For example, reading about the success of a vaccination program in the news can lead to a feeling of “well, some have that I need”.

In fact, seeing some close to others who have been vaccinated and have not experienced serious side effects can be, for some, like the effect of reading about millions taking it and not experiencing serious side effects. Likewise, many people believe this is the only way to get back to ‘normal’, and for them the benefits outweigh the costs.

Since the vaccine program has been as successful as ever, is it also important to doubt the vaccine? The answer is yes. First, the share of the acceptance factor is higher because it is in the right way, we prioritize the most vulnerable groups who are more likely to receive a vaccine (perhaps because they need protection and / or are most concerned. about the consequences of personally contracting the virus).

However, the data suggest that as our age groups decline, vaccine skepticism increases-with 17% of ages 18-29 reporting skepticism, compared with 1% only for those aged 70 and over. Similarly, with the continuing emergence of new and increasingly viable varieties, the overall threshold of ‘herd immunity’ as a result of vaccination is likely to be higher than first thought last year, perhaps. as high as 80% of the population. And therefore, every vaccination is important.

  • Dr Simon Williams is a senior lecturer in people and organization at Swansea University, Wales and Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago. Twitter: @drsimonwilliams
  • Dr Kimberly Dienes is a lecturer in clinical and health psychology at Swansea University, Wales and an honorary leturer at the Center for Health Psychology at the University of Manchester. Twitter: @KimberlyDienes
  • They are currently researching public views on UK coronavirus policy: https://www.swansea.ac.uk/research/research-highlight/health-innovation/public-during-pandemic/



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