NMSU professor contributes to COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy study

Coronavirus New Mexico

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KRQE) – As New Mexico enters its second phase of COVID-19 vaccine distribution, some are still hesitant about taking the vaccine and a new study gives insight into who is more likely to feel that way. “We almost thought if we have so much of resistance to wearing a mask, as you know we did a study on that, what would happen if there was a vaccine because vaccines are somewhat invasive. They may have side effects compared to masks,” said Jagdish Khubchandani, professor of public health sciences at NMSU and one of the researchers in the study.

Nearly 1,900 Americans participated in the study over the summer. It found one in five American adults are not likely to get a COVID-19 vaccine when it’s made available to them. The study also found adults in rural areas, with lower-income and education levels, and those with kids at home were less likely to get a vaccine. Khubchandani also said the study found Hispanics and African Americans were also likely to get a vaccine and he said history may explain that.

“We have to remember the historical mistrust that African Americans and Hispanics have in medical enterprise,” he said. “They’ve known about atrocities done on them and also they have not been recruited in clinical trials and vaccines to the extent that they should have been. So, we have some history of vaccine hesitancy in minorities.”

The study also found one’s perception of their likeliness of contracting COVID-19 was a big factor in whether they’d get the vaccine. Since this study was conducted over the summer of 2020, Khubchandani notes the amount of vaccine hesitancy today may have shifted, especially since election season is over.

“I think before the pandemic and the study that the American public was so skeptical during the elections. People thought that politicans were trying to force the vaccine out sooner than it should be without testing it properly. Now that the elections are over and we’ve gone through turmoil in 2020, more people are taking the vaccine,” he said. As of Jan. 13, more than 10 million Americans had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Based on the findings, Khubchandani said more compassion and communication is needed during the pandemic. “The momentum will build up and more people will take the vaccine, attitudes will continue to shift, and eventually we want to get back to life. We want to be the way we were in 2019 and the vaccines could help,” he said.

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