Health Care Workers’ Reluctance to Take the Covid-19 Vaccine: A Consumer-Marketing Approach to Identifying and Overcoming Hesitancy

An anonymous survey of employees across the Yale Medicine and Yale New Haven Health system at the time of FDA approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine used sentiment analysis to estimate the prevalence of and underlying reasons for Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy. Overall, 1 in 6 health care workers expressed reluctance to getting the vaccine in the first wave. Yale identified 15 themes describing reasons for this reluctance and found positive and negative sentiments underlying many of them. They propose strategies for messaging to mitigate vaccine hesitancy among these groups.

In the survey, 15% of healthcare workers were at least somewhat reluctant to be vaccinated, responding that they were “neither likely or unlikely,” “somewhat unlikely,” or “extremely unlikely” to get the vaccine when it was available—lower than the percentage in the general population. To understand the motivations of hesitant , the researchers asked them to answer the question, “What would make you comfortable getting the vaccine?” in a free-response box.

The researchers started by analyzing the broad themes in the responses. Of the 15% who were hesitant, the largest group, about 30%, said they wanted to see long-term follow-up on the vaccine, of more than a year, before they would be comfortable being vaccinated. About 12% wanted medium-term follow-up, and 10% said nothing would make them comfortable getting the vaccine. Smaller minorities offered a variety of reasons, including pregnancy, allergies, a health condition that was not studied in trials, religious objections, or simply wanting to see others get the vaccine first.