With over a half of rural US rural residents having received a Covid-19 vaccine or having planned to, one in five still said they would definitely not get vaccinated, an analysis released Friday by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed, CNN reported.
In a research that surveyed 1,001 adults living in rural America 54% said they had received a Covid-19 vaccine or planned to.
Vaccine Hesitancy High Among Rural Residents
Rural residents that said they definitely would not get vaccinated polled one in five. Of these respondents 73% had Republican leanings while 43% identified as White Evangelical Christians.
According to KFF President and CEO Drew Alman, there was nothing inherently unique to rural area life that made people resist getting vaccinated. He added that it was just that rural areas had a larger share of White Evangelical Christians and Republicans who were the most resistant to vaccination.
According to the report, the major problem that rural communities faced was not access to vaccines. Around 11% of the rural residents surveyed who had not received a vaccine said they had tried getting an appointment, as against 22% in suburban areas and 21% of those in urban areas. Of the rural residents polled around 68% said their area had enough vaccine sites, as against 52% urban and 55% suburban residents who expressed similar views.
Among Black rural residents, the KFF team noted a gap in access. They were less likely than Hispanic or White residents to report adequate number of vaccine sites or adequate vaccine supply in their communities.
According to Alan Morgan, president, National Rural Health Association (NRHA), who spoke to CNN, rural communities could not solely rely on pharmacies which residents did not always find accessible for vaccine distribution.
He added, there had to be vaccination sites in the small towns, as there was no way people would take an off-day, to board a commuter bus for a site an hour’s drive away.
The researchers said it was concerning as large number of rural residents that did not want to get vaccinated could mean that rural communities could lag behind the rest in vaccination coverage.
According to Morgan while there was hope in the number of residents of rural areas who had already been vaccinated, he also had concerns.
He added he was concerned, as it was about a population that was most risk, and had the highest incidence of chronic health issues, communities that had been slow in adopting public health measures and to top it all, there was a vaccine hesitancy concern. He said there were a lot of headwinds there.
According to KFF researchers no message would be effective across the board in swaying those who did not want to be vaccinated, those who had a wait and see approach as to whether they wanted get the shot appeared to be receptive to education and messaging.
About 64% said they would be more likely to get vaccinated on hearing 100% efficacy at preventing hospitalization and death. Over half said that they would more likely get vaccinated hearing scientists had been working 20 years on the technology.
According to Morgan their members had seen the group that preferred to wait and see come around fast.
He said he just kept hearing the same thing and once people in the community got it with no adverse reactions, then they joined.
Meanwhile NRHA was conducting a survey of its own members to observe the uptake of the vaccine among health care workers in rural settings.
He added if one’s own doctor or nurse did not want to take the vaccine, no national campaign would be able to overcome that. He said it took local leadership.