Study: COVID-19 Vaccine Efficacy, Awareness Important to Convert Hesitant Individuals

Adults unsure about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine who were given more information about the vaccine’s efficacy scored 20% higher on a measure of willingness to be vaccinated versus others who received no information.

It is critical to continue to raise awareness regarding the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, specifically with favorable comparisons to other well-established vaccines, according to a study led by the University of Bristol and published in the British Journal of Health Psychology.

The researchers found that adults who were unsure about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine and who were given more information about the vaccine’s efficacy scored 20% higher on a measure of willingness to be vaccinated versus others who received no information. Further, receptivity improved and increased almost as double among survey respondents who were given information about how COVID-19 vaccines perform compared to the flu vaccine.

“The general positive effect of providing key information is not surprising, as we knew already that people’s perception of the effectiveness of a vaccine is an important factor in their vaccination intentions,” said lead study author Colin Davis, professor and chair in Cognitive Psychology, in a press release. “But the extra benefit of providing comparative information is a novel finding that underscores the vital role of communication in improving vaccine uptake.”

The data come from 2 surveys of UK adults between 18 and 85 years of age conducted in December 2020. In the first survey, 2400 people revealed that 65% agreed or strongly agreed they would take the COVID-19 vaccine. Further, 12% were equally sure that they would not take the vaccine. In the middle range, 23% of respondents expressed reservations and uncertainty about whether they would be vaccinated.

The second survey of followed 481 adults with a goal to provide certain relevant information to improve the willingness to be vaccinated. Most participants were unsure about having the vaccine when no information was given; however, confidence levels grew by 20% when the efficacy of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were discussed. The likelihood of being vaccinated grew by a similar margin when information about COVID-19 vaccines also listed the efficacy of the flu vaccine over the past 15 years (40%).

“The findings show the positive potential of the contrast effect. Pointing out factual comparisons can be helpful when making a decision, particularly about something new. People value evidence-based information and this can provide affirmation and reassurance for cautious groups,” Davis said in the press release. “It’s also important to note the information we provided about the lower effectiveness of the flu jab did not change people’s intention to have the flu vaccine. Perception of the flu vaccine benefits from its familiarity and an established sense of safety and efficacy. By positively associating the COVID-19 vaccine with the well-known flu jab, people are reminded that vaccines work and they are safe.”

In the latest figures, vaccine uptake is slowing down, with the average number of doses administered daily dropping from more than a half-million doses per day to under one-third of a million in the past 2 months. In England, approximately 95% of individuals between 55 years of age and 79 years of age and 80% of individuals 35 years of age and older have had their first dose. This number drops to 76% among individuals from 30 to 35 years of age, 65% for those 25 to 29 years of age, and 57% among those 18 to 24 years of age, according to the study.

“Younger people perhaps perceive themselves to be less vulnerable to COVID-19 virus. While mortality rates are fortunately much lower in this age group, exposure to the virus carries the danger of long-COVID in people of all ages,” Davis said in the press release. “By getting vaccinated young people can protect themselves and also reduce transmission levels in the population as a whole. The vaccination campaign is by no means over and this study shows the importance of informed and targeted communication.”

REFERENCE

Highlighting the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines could hold key to converting doubters. University of Bristol. July 13, 2021. Accessed July 14, 2021. https://www.bristol.ac.uk/news/2021/july/covid-19-vaccine-uptake.html