Vaccine hesitancy a concern for health experts

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – A new poll shows nearly half of Kansans are unsure if they will get the coronavirus vaccine. More than 500,000 Kansans have gotten a coronavirus vaccine, but data released by the Kansas Health Institute shows not everyone is sold on the shot.

The survey from January shows 53 percent of adults definitely want the vaccine or have gotten it already. It also showed 24% would probably get it, 14% probably wouldn’t and 8% definitely won’t get it.

Of the 22% that don’t seem to want to get it, the biggest concerns are possible side effects and they want to wait to make sure it’s safe.

There’s also a group of people, mostly from the “probably will get” group, that believe other people need it more than them right now. One health expert said not to wait.

“As soon as your turn comes, you should take it. It means that the people that are looking at this data, making these policies have decided this is your turn, your risk is high enough that you should take it when it’s offered to you,” said Gianfranco Pezzino, senior fellow at the Kansas Health Institute, and former Shawnee County Health Officer.

Officials said the problem right now is vaccine availability, but with production getting much higher, a big concern will soon be vaccine hesitancy.

They said it will be important to get into reluctant communities that work at higher risk jobs, are poorer, or are minorities. There’s a push to get credible people in those areas to promote that the vaccine is safe.

Experts said if not enough people get the shot, it could delay getting over the pandemic and COVID-19 could continue to spread.

“The more virus that circulates and infects people, the higher chances for that virus to mutate and create variants that then may make some of the vaccines not helpful anymore, so we really need to bring the number up as high as possible,” Pezzino said.

He said people should not wait for a specific brand, because any protection is better than none.

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