Comparing COVID-19 Shot to Well Known Shots May Increase Vaccine Trust

A physician discusses a vaccine with a patient.
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Key Takeaways

  • Providing information about the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines resulted in higher interest in COVID-19 vaccination.
  • By comparing the efficacy rates of COVID-19 vaccines to flu shots, COVID-19 vaccine hesitation was further addressed.
  • Provision of information on the lower effectiveness of the flu vaccine did not reduce intentions to get the annual flu shot.

While vaccine hesitancy has decreased, Delta variants still pose a significant threat. A study published in the British Journal of Health Psychology found that awareness of COVID-19 vaccine efficacy could convert doubters.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 162 million Americans have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but that still leaves more than half of the population across the country at risk.

Especially as vaccine hesitancy of some continues to pose a barrier for many, given that vaccines for children under the age of 12 are not expected until 2022, it is crucial to address COVID-19 vaccine doubts among adults.

About The Research

For this study, 481 participants across the UK aged 18 to 85 with intermediate levels of vaccine hesitancy were surveyed about their vaccine intentions following a review of material on COVID-19 vaccine efficacy.

When research participants were provided with text that stated the Pfizer vaccine had an efficacy of 95% while the Moderna vaccine had an efficacy of 94%, their vaccine intentions increased by 20%, while this improvement doubled when compared with the efficacy of the annual flu vaccines.

A limitation of this study is that only intention to get the COVID-19 vaccine was measured, as opposed to rates of vaccination, but earlier research indicates that vaccination intentions are a strong predictor of behavior.

Vaccines Save Lives

A faculty member in Walden University’s Master of Science in Nursing program, Deidra Thompson, DNP, FNP-C, PMHNP-BC, says, "Receiving the COVID-19 vaccine is just as important as other routine vaccines, including the annual flu vaccine. We need to change the perception of the COVID-19 vaccine as a threat."

For those who have been infected with COVID-19, Thompson explains that they can still benefit from vaccination to avoid reinfection. "The strength and duration of natural immunity after having the virus varies based on the individual and severity of disease. Those with milder disease tend to have lower antibody levels for protection against the disease," she says.

Deidra Thompson, DNP, FNP-C, PMHNP-BC

We need to change the perception of the COVID-19 vaccine as a threat.

— Deidra Thompson, DNP, FNP-C, PMHNP-BC

Thomson says, "Vaccines have been helping to save lives for decades. Immunity helps to protect the world from diseases such as smallpox, measles, mumps, diphtheria, and now, COVID-19. Individuals who have had allergic reactions to any vaccine in the past should consult with their healthcare provider before accepting the COVID-19 vaccine."

Education is essential, which is why Thompson encourages vaccine-hesitant individuals to identify any barriers to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine so they can work to minimize those concerns. "Read the evidence and discuss the best option with your healthcare provider rather than listening to individuals who are not experts on the matter," she says.

Vaccine Misinformation is Rampant

Family medicine physician and faculty member at the Brodes H. Hartley, Jr. Teaching Health Center for Community Health of South Florida, Inc.Kelly Mudon, MD, says, "One of the essential components of encouraging people to get vaccinated is education. Patients need to know about the safety and efficacy of vaccinations if we are to achieve high vaccination rates."

When we can take something people know about and compare it to something they are unfamiliar with, Mudon highlights how they can become more comfortable. "This can definitely be applied to our current COVID vaccination situation, and the more we know about the psychology and the behavioral aspects of vaccination obtainment, the better,” she says. 

Kelly Mudon, MD

This can definitely be applied to our current COVID vaccination situation, and the more we know about the psychology and the behavioral aspects of vaccination obtainment, the better.

— Kelly Mudon, MD

Mudon says, "It is important to remember that the study states that the goal population was a unique group of undecided, seemingly open-minded people who have a hunger for knowledge and seem to be active thinkers and researchers who wish to independently seek out data and truth. Health professionals may encounter patients who may be less open-minded.”  

As a previous educator and a current physician, Mudon believes that education is the solution to many of today's issues. "Misinformation is rampant, so it is important to persistently create a relationship of trust with the patient while continuing to update ourselves on current research regarding the COVID vaccination, and all vaccinations in general,” she says.

What This Means For You

As this study highlights, vaccine misinformation can be addressed with education. If you are trying to support vaccine-hesitant family and friends, sharing vaccine efficacy including comparisons to the annual flu shot may help. Ultimately, individuals need to make informed vaccine decisions in collaboration with their healthcare providers.

2 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Davis C, Golding M, McKay R. Efficacy information influences intention to take COVID‐19 vaccineBr J Health Psychol. 2021. doi:10.1111/bjhp.12546

  2. COVID Data Tracker. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

By Krystal Jagoo
 Krystal Kavita Jagoo is a social worker, committed to anti-oppressive practice.