In a story for the Association of American Medical Colleges, new research shows that just refuting misinformation is not enough to convince COVID-19 vaccine holdouts in rural America. A new study from the University of Pittsburgh highlights the challenge; even after accounting for factors such as age, sex, and level of education, people living in highly rural counties are still 23% more likely to be vaccine hesitant, compared to someone living in an urban area.
From the story: “Like Leap, Julia Daisy Fraustino, PhD, co-founder of the Public Interest Communication Research Lab in the West Virginia University Media Innovation Center, says a heavy-handed approach to promoting vaccines — such as using appeals that could be perceived as decrees or commands — is bound to fail among conservative, rural populations. The lab has studied barriers to vaccination in the overwhelmingly rural state, which may resonate in similar areas around the country.
“Frankly, in West Virginia, we’re scrappy, we’re resilient, and we love our freedom and independence,” she says. “People want to make their own decision about vaccinations. Just giving them unbiased basic information to make an informed decision is the best way to move forward with this.”
Stating the facts, leaving politics at the door, and forging ties with local medical professionals are a few ways to reach those who are still hesitant. Whatever strategy you use, be aware it might take a little longer to convince some rural Americans to get vaccinated.
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