Prior infections influence opinions of COVID-19 vaccines

COVID vaccines

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A survey given to Americans in December of 2021 shows whether or not recipients had been infected with COVID-19 before or after vaccination against the virus greatly influenced their opinion of the vaccines. The study is published in The American Journal of Infection Control.

The online survey included responses from 1,733 US adults questioned about COVID-19 vaccines in December of 2021, 1 year after the vaccines had been approved for emergency use and several months after the shots had become widely available to the general public.

The goal of the study was to gauge whether people think COVID-19 vaccination is less beneficial or safe for someone who has already had COVID-19 compared to someone who has not, the authors said.

30% of survey respondents say vaccines unsafe

The respondents’ mean age was 41 years, 66.4% were non-Hispanic White, and 66.0% were female. A bit more than half (53.1%) of respondents reported having received 1 or more dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 27.6% reported prior COVID-19 infection.

Vaccinated respondents who had personally experienced COVID-19 post-vaccination perceived COVID-19 vaccines as less beneficial.

Approximately 30% of the respondents said they believed COVID-19 vaccines were unsafe for someone who already had a previous COVID-19 infection, and more than 40% said that for those previously infected, COVID-19 vaccines were of minimal benefit. Those who got COVID-19 after vaccination had an even lower opinion of the vaccines.

"Vaccinated respondents who had personally experienced COVID-19 post-vaccination perceived COVID-19 vaccines as less beneficial and less safe for someone else compared to vaccinated respondents who had not personally experienced COVID-19 post-vaccination," the authors wrote. "This was found both when asking about COVID-19 vaccination for someone else with prior COVID-19 infection and for someone else without prior COVID-19 infection."

Though studies have shown COVID-19 vaccines have limited ability to prevent transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, they've proven over and over that vaccination is effective in reducing severe disease outcomes, including hospitalization and death.

The results of the present study show many Americans still hold a dismissive view of COVID-19 vaccines. As of April 2023, 30% of the population have not been vaccinated with primary doses, and 83% of those eligible have not received a booster dose.


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