Report Finds ‘Uphill Battle’ For Pharmacists Combatting COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy

Although the United States has surpassed the milestone of 100 million COVID-19 vaccinations, a study found that reaching 200 million will be significantly more challenging as vaccine hesitancy remains.

A new report from Informa Pharma Intelligence found that nearly one-quarter of Americans surveyed would choose none of the 3 currently available COVID-19 vaccines, which the report said reflects a recent policy shift from herd immunity to virus manageability.

“The US is heading toward long-term management of COVID-19, but vaccine hesitancy is still a significant threat in terms of full mitigation,” said Karen Currie, MPH, executive director of Citeline at Informa Pharma Intelligence, in a press release. “Transparency, consistency, and accuracy in communication around the vaccines will be essential to turning the tide on the spread of the virus.”

Although the United States has surpassed the milestone of 100 million COVID-19 vaccinations, the report’s authors said reaching 200 million will be significantly more challenging as vaccine hesitancy remains. According to the report, 23% of Americans would not receive either the Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, or Pfizer and BioNTech vaccines based on phase 3 clinical trial results.

Among the 77% of Americans who would choose one of the available vaccines, 42% said they would prefer the vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech, compared to 25% who preferred Moderna and 9% who preferred Johnson & Johnson.

In surveys from 2020, a major part of this hesitancy came from a lack of understanding about clinical trials, although the researchers noted that levels of understanding have improved since the company’s report released prior to the first COVID-19 vaccine approval. Notably, the percentage of Americans who said they were more likely to take a COVID-19 vaccine if they had more information has dropped from 28% to 14% since 2020.

Furthermore, the number of Americans saying they would be willing to participate in clinical trials nearly doubled from 7% in 2020 to 13% in 2021, which could potentially mean that Americans are more educated on vaccine data. This education stems mainly from public government data, information distributed by vaccine manufacturers, and from conversations with health care providers.

The survey found decreasing levels of distrust, with 18% of respondents indicating they do not trust how quickly the COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials are moving, down from 35% in 2020. Similarly, 16% said they do not believe pharmaceutical companies have consumers’ best interests in mind during clinical trials, compared to 23% in 2020.

Improving vaccine trust and educating patients will be essential to the future of COVID-19 vaccine development, as well. According to the report, Americans noted several clinical trial factors and said they are critical for their willingness to be vaccinated. Specifically, 22% said they would be more likely to take a COVID-19 vaccine if the clinical trials showed sufficient results of working against new variants.

Similarly, 28% of Americans with children under the age of 18 said they were more likely to have their child take a COVID-19 vaccine if they knew pediatric clinical trials showed sufficient safety and efficacy. Finally, 13% said they would be more likely to take a COVID-19 vaccine if they knew the clinical trials were demographically diverse.

“Trust must continue to be built among the American people, government, and pharmaceutical companies as we work together to save lives, effectively corner the virus and emerge from this pandemic,” Currie concluded in the press release.

REFERENCE

While Over Three-Quarters of Americans Are Willing to Take at Least One of the Authorized COVID-19 Vaccines, Nearly a Quarter Are Still Hesitant as the US Changes Course on Mitigation Strategy. News release [Email]. Informa Pharma Intelligence. June 3, 2021. Accessed June 8, 2021.