Senior man wearing a protective face mask is getting vaccination from a person with white surgical gloves.

Vaccine Hesitancy Isn’t a COVID-Specific Phenomenon, Reber Says

Associate Professor of Public Policy Sarah Reber co-authored a Milbank article about the deadly consequences of vaccine hesitancy. Thousands of Americans are dying of COVID-19 each day despite the availability of a free vaccine, but widespread and persistent vaccine hesitancy existed even prior to the pandemic, wrote Reber and Cyrus Kosar of Brown University. “Vaccine hesitancy is not a COVID-specific phenomenon and is not unique to Republicans or vocal anti-vaxxers,” they wrote. The authors pointed out that seasonal flu kills tens of thousands annually, yet only about a third of adults between 18 and 49 get an annual flu shot. Research shows that younger and low-risk individuals, those who perceive vaccines to be less effective, the less educated, the uninsured, and racial and ethnic minorities are consistently less likely to get vaccinated for both COVID-19 and the flu. “Serious investment in research on how to reach the vaccine-hesitant is long overdue,” they concluded.


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