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A woman receives a COVID-19 vaccine from a U.S. service member in Boston on Feb. 16. Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images

A new survey identifies some of the psychological barriers to taking vaccines — and how to overcome them.

The big picture: With COVID vaccine production and distribution ramping up, we're going to reach a moment when supply exceeds demand, which puts a premium on finding ways to persuade the persuadable on the value of vaccines.

What's happening: In a survey released on Friday, Surgo Ventures polled nearly 3,000 U.S. adults to determine how best to reach the vaccine-hesitant.

  • The results were broken down into five groups based on their attitudes toward the vaccines.

By the numbers:

  1. 40% of respondents fell into the enthusiastic camp and reported eagerness to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
  2. Another 20% were in the watchful group, which means they weren't against the vaccine, but were worried about side effects and didn't want to be first in line.
  3. 14% were classified as cost-anxious — they tended to be younger and live in rural areas, and they perceived that the costs of the vaccine in time and money exceeded the benefits.
  4. 9% were system distrusters, who were more likely to be minorities, and believed the vaccine had not been adequately tested for their group.
  5. The last 17% were conspiracy believers who tended to be Republican and had little fear of COVID-19 itself. They often subscribed to more outlandish and harmful theories about vaccines.

Be smart: Reaching different groups demands different strategies, according to the survey's authors.

  • The enthusiastic just need easy access to the vaccine, while the watchful can be persuaded by seeing friends and community members get shots.
  • The cost-anxious can be reached through lower prices and access, while the system distrusters can be reached through listening sessions that air their concerns.
  • Conspiracy believers, however, should be deprioritized, allowing resources to flow to more persuadable groups.

The bottom line: We can't reach everyone, but with psychologically tailored strategies, we can hopefully reach enough.

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Feb 20, 2021 - Health

Why we're still waiting for rapid, at-home COVID tests

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Rapid at-home COVID-19 tests are fast, but the regulatory approval needed to get them in the hands of Americans has been slow to come.

Why it matters: Quick, fully at-home COVID-19 tests could make a vital contribution to stemming the pandemic — and open up a new frontier for more constant disease surveillance — but old assumptions about how diagnostics should be used are holding them back.

Feb 19, 2021 - Technology

"Vaccine hunters" turn to social media in the scramble to find shots

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

People who haven't been able to secure appointments for a coronavirus vaccine are turning to Facebook groups and other online forums to find cancelled slots, figure out where to go, or simply to find information local health authorities have not provided.

Why it matters: These ad-hoc online communities have helped people get vaccinated and helped keep doses of the vaccine from going to waste. But they also underscore the confusion and frustration of the U.S. vaccine rollout, and the risk of misinformation is real.