A recent study on vaccine hesitancy shows not only that there are different types of vaccine hesitancy but that a large portion of those on the fence— as much as 43 percent of Americans—can be persuaded through targeted education to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
The study by Surgo Ventures surveyed 2,747 U.S. adults and found that attitudes about the vaccine fell into one of five different segments:
- “The Enthusiasts”: At 40 percent, this group said they would get the vaccine as soon as it was available to them and have no reservations about receiving the vaccination.
- “The Watchful”: Another 20 percent in the study are those that want to first see others get the vaccine and have safe experiences before getting it themselves.
- “The Cost-Anxious”: The third group of 14 percent said that time and costs were barriers to getting the vaccine and healthcare in general.
- “The System Distrusters”: The 9 percent that comprise the fourth group believe that people of their own race are not treated fairly by the health system. This group is likely though not exclusively to include communities of color.
- “The Conspiracy Believers”: This group makes up the final 17 percent and includes people who don’t believe in vaccines in general and who have very specific beliefs about COVID-19.
While the study concluded that it is likely too difficult to persuade the 17 percent of “Conspiracy Believers” in the short term, it recommends that efforts to persuade and educate the middle 43 percent that make up the “Watchful,” the “Cost-Anxious,” and the “System Distrusters” may be more successful.
“What’s especially tricky about COVID-19 is that unlike a ‘normal’ vaccination campaign, we have extremely limited time that we can’t waste trying to convince people who simply won’t be convinced,” said Dr. Sema K. Sgaier, cofounder of Surgo Ventures and an adjunct assistant professor at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. “Our approach goes beyond parsing people solely based on demographics to look at the barriers that truly drive someone’s intention to get vaccinated.”
Previous studies have found that certain subgroups, including women, essential workers, Black individuals, rural residents, Republicans, and lower-income individuals, are typically the people that express hesitancy about receiving vaccines. However, the study asserts that targeting people simply on demographics would be less effective.
Though groups that the Surgo study identifies as the persuadable 43 percent—the “Watchful,” “Cost-Anxious,” and “System Distrusters”—each have their own specific barriers, they also share one commonality. All three are concerned about the safety of the vaccine. These include beliefs about the vaccine testing, the approval process, and related concerns around side effects.
For healthcare providers dispensing the vaccine, this 43 percent of Americans is likely representative of their patients and community. In order to successfully rollout the vaccine to patients and schedule them to receive doses, efforts to dispense targeted patient education that address vaccine safety as part of the appointment communication workflow will be crucial.
Providers that utilize a text-based patient communication system can maximize their reach to patients by efficiently messaging trusted source information about the vaccine’s safety and efficacy to patients. It may also be helpful to send out a pre-vaccination survey to patients to assess the degree of vaccine hesitancy among your patient pool.
For an easy-to-use one-stop resource filled with best practices and helpful patient education about the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine, download the guide, “The COVID-19 Vaccine: A Resource Guide.”