U.S. veterans who opted not to get COVID-19 vaccines by spring 2021 cited fears of side effects and how new the shots were as their reasons for not getting jabbed, a new survey finds.
A joint research team from the Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University polled military veterans on their vaccination status.
They found that veterans were likely to get the Covid vaccine when it became available to them, with more than 70 percent having received the shot by March.
But of the roughly 30 percent who were hold outs, they had a wide range of reasons for why they were passing up on the jab.
Veterans who were eligible for the Covid jab but not yet vaccinated by March 2021 cited a wide range of reasons for not having the shot yet. The most common were concerns about the shots side-effects and the newness of the vaccine
Researchers, who published their findings on Wednesday in JAMA Network Open, sent a web-based survey to a database of military veterans.
In total, 1,178 responded to the survey and 71 percent reported that they were vaccinated.
Those who had not yet received the vaccine, 339 participants – or 29 percent – also reported that they had worse physical or mental health on average.
The most frequent reason cited among the unvaccinated was fears over potential side effects of the vaccine.
More than one-third, 36 percent, of unvaccinated veterans reported this as their main reason.
This matches the general population as well with a large portion of unvaccinated Americans citing fear potential dangers of the jab’s side effects.
One out of every five respondents said they feared the newness of the vaccine, with about the same amount reporting that they were avoiding the jab in an attempt to use as little medicine as possible.
There was also a lack of trust demonstrated by the unvaccinated veterans in vaccines, and health care in general.
Around 18 percent of the unvaccinated respondents reported that they did not trust the health care system to act in their best interest.
Slightly less, 15 percent, reported that they did not trust the COVID-19 vaccines.
A vast majority, 71%, of veterans who were eligible for the vaccine had received it last spring, the study found. Pictured: A soldier in Fort Knox, Kentucky, receives a shot of a COVID-19 vaccine on September 9
For those who did get the jab, more than half said they did so to prevent themselves from getting Covid, wanting to contribute towards ending the pandemic and wanting to help life get back to normal.
Only three percent reported that they only got the shot so others would not think less of them.
Dispelling myths about COVID-19 vaccines and convincing Americans to get the jabs, whether they are veterans or not, has proved to be a major problem for health officials.
While active military members are required to get the vaccine, veterans are under no such authority.
Some of the reasons veterans cited for not wanting the jab – lack of trust of vaccines, fears the shot will alter DNA or effect pregnancy in some way – are drawn from falsehoods spread on social media about the vaccines.
While some platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, have taken some steps to combat misinformation about the jabs, critics have blasted the sites for not going far enough.
Despite these widespread falsehoods, a majority of Americans still have received the Covid jab.
According to most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 80 percent of American adults have received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, and almost 70 percent are fully vaccinated.
Eligibility for the vaccine recently expanded as well to include children aged five to 11, though the decision has been controversial among some parents.