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Syracuse University Experts on Vaccine Hesitancy
On Tuesday, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the US, said “The Delta variant is currently the greatest threat in the U.S. to our attempt to eliminate Covid-19.” The good news, he said, is that the vaccines authorized in the United States work against the variant. “We have the tools,” he said. “So let’s use them, and crush the outbreak.”
As vaccine hesitancy continues to cause issues with stamping out the coronavirus and preventing the spread of this new variant, please see a list of Syracuse University experts who can offer insight based on research into this issue.
To arrange an interview with any of these experts, please contact Ellen James Mbuqe, director of media relations at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-496-0551 (cell).
Psychology of Vaccine Hesitancy
Afton Kapuscinski, director of the Psychological Services Center at Syracuse University and an assistant teaching professor of psychology, offers insight on how to address the hesitancy by understanding where the resistance comes from.
“Many of the beliefs and other psychological characteristics associated with vaccine hesitancy share an undercurrent of fear that vaccination or the vaccination campaign is dangerous, and people are extremely motivated to avoid harm,” said Kapuscinski. “Whether the concern is focused on potential side effects, loss of personal choice or distrust of certain information sources, it may be possible to view voiced barriers as guideposts to formulating effective hesitancy-reduction strategies that reduce the perception of threat. Genuine efforts to understand and respond to reluctance in ways that are meaningful to hesitant subgroups may be beneficial at the level of public health efforts as well as individual conversations with loved ones.”
Rebecca Ortiz, an assistant professor at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications and a researcher of health communication, said that resistance to vaccines is not unusual but has been amplified by the politicized and inconsistent management of coronavirus. She says that if the government wants to reach those who are hesitant or resistant, they need to understand a mass media campaign won’t work. What will work? Friends and family.
“People are already fatigued and resistant to messages promoted by our government and news media sources,” said Ortiz. “These are people who will only be convinced by those that they trust in their inner circles, such as their wives, husbands, moms, dads, children, friends, people whose opinions they value.”
Recent interviews: Have a loved one who doesn’t want to get the COVID-19 vaccine? Here’s how to talk to them. USA Today.
Research into Vaccine Hesitancy and Political Beliefs
Researchers from Syracuse University and Jefferson Community College in New York polled residents in the North Country – the northern-most region of New York – and found 24% of those polled identified as vaccine hesitant. The researchers found that of the 875 adults in Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence Counties (New York State) surveyed in April 2021, questions about the safety, effectiveness, and necessity of the vaccine were the greatest predictors of vaccine hesitancy – not party affiliation or voting history.
As vaccination rates have somewhat stalled in some sections of the country, many have framed vaccine hesitancy as a politically partisan issue.
“In these counties, the majority of people who voted for Trump have already been vaccinated; the majority of Republicans have already been vaccinated,” says David Larsen of the Department of Public Health, Syracuse University, and co-author of the study. “To frame vaccine hesitancy as politically partisan is lazy, inaccurate, and undermines our ability to address concerns and questions about the safety, effectiveness, and necessity of these excellent vaccines.”
This North Country study suggests that attitudes among the majority of adults in the region tend to be supportive of the public health measures that have been implemented in the region over the past year, and supportive of the COVID-19 vaccination process. However, a minority of adults in the region are opposed to the public health measures that have been implemented over the past year and hesitant about the vaccination process. These people tend to view COVID-19 as less severe and government responses to COVID-19 as over the top. Although vaccine hesitancy is associated with political ideology, perceived severity and trust in the vaccine testing process were stronger predictors.”
The report can be seen here: https://sunyjefferson.edu/news/jcc_su_ccs_covid_hesitancy_nny.php