vials of vaccine and syringe

Vaccine hesitancy can be defined as the ‘delay in acceptance or refusal of [the] vaccine despite the availability of vaccine services’.1 This was the focus of a recent study – perception and willingness of people to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The study included the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand.

The four major factors that were found to contribute to vaccine hesitancy were:

  1. Fear of side effects (either those based on science, or others that are purely speculative, coincidental, or unsubstantiated),
  2. Distrust in the vaccine,
  3. Vaccine related risks, and
  4. The perceived effectiveness of the vaccine.

The speed at which the vaccines were developed enhanced some of the vaccine hesitancy within the general population, especially with the popularity of social media, which has allowed claims of vaccine injuries and anti-vaccine conspiracy theories to spread quickly.

The study suggests that to get around vaccine hesitancy to ensure that as a global population herd immunity strength can be reached, three concerns must be addressed:

  1.  Trust in the government;
  2. The effectiveness and availability of the shot;
  3. Dealing with the conspiracy theories that surround both the vaccines and the virus.

The study also suggests that the messages for dealing with these concerns be delivered through a variety of mediums, and written to address both the concerns and to refute the conspiracy theories.


Burke PF, Masters D, and Massey G. (2021) ‘Enablers and barriers to COVID-19 vaccine uptake: An international study of perceptions and intentions’ Vaccine 39:5116-5128

Image by MasterTux from Pixabay 

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