Though the majority of consumers are supportive of a vaccine, the study findings suggest that experts need to be more vocal about the specifics to ease some of the public’s concerns.
“Messages promoting the COVID-19 vaccine need to alleviate the concerns of those who are already vaccine-hesitant,” said researcher Brian Poole. “Vaccine hesitancy is growing and the World Health Organization has already deemed it one of the top threats to global health.”
Consumers feel hesitant about a vaccine
The researchers surveyed 316 people and asked them to report on several measures that gauged their attitudes on vaccines more generally and within the scope of the pandemic. Their work revealed that nearly 70 percent of the survey respondents were in favor of a COVID-19 vaccine, though many expressed concerns about general vaccine-related fears, including potential side effects and overall effectiveness.
The researchers explained that these results were consistent with the participants’ beliefs about vaccines more generally, as those who were pro-vaccine were more likely to be in favor of a coronavirus vaccine.
Any hesitancy that participants felt tended to come from ambiguity about the particulars of the vaccine, including the testing process. Many of the participants said they wouldn’t feel comfortable getting a COVID-19 vaccine until more long-term testing has been completed. To help alleviate some of these concerns, the researchers are calling for clearer messaging to consumers about the full spectrum of the vaccine process.
“Public health messaging regarding COVID-19 vaccination should be less about the individual need for vaccination and more about the country and how to get it back to where it needs to be,” said Poole.
Importance of being clear
Now that the researchers have identified what aspects of a COVID-19 vaccine are troubling to consumers, they hope that future communications will be better tailored to ease those concerns.
“It is critical that we understand the potential barriers to vaccine uptake prior to the release of a COVID vaccine,” said researcher Jamie Jensen. “By understanding these barriers, we can design publicity strategies that will speak directly to the potential issues and hopefully get out ahead of any public dissent. With a vaccine being the most powerful weapon we have to end this global pandemic, the knowledge from this study is absolutely critical.”