Evangelicals who sought counsel from their pastors or other faith leaders about COVID-19 vaccines were less likely to get one than those who spoke with doctors or health care providers, a new survey suggests.
The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is set to publish the results of the survey and its associated study, “Between Healthcare Practitioners and Clergy: Evangelicals and COVID-19 Hesitancy.” The published data is set to look at “demographics, health beliefs and faith-based variables” between Evangelicals who got vaccinated, those who were still undetermined about what course of action to take, and those who had decided not to get vaccinated, Virginia Commonwealth University news reports.
The survey was taken from a relatively small sample — 531 people — of those who self-identified as evangelical Christians. The information was gathered in the United States under the guidance of Virginia Commonwealth University. VCU news continues:
“Evangelical Christians are among the most hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Jeanine Guidry, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture in the College of Humanities and Sciences and director of the Media+Health Lab. “[We found] that contact with health care providers and clergy for this particular population absolutely do matter, and they seem to matter in opposite directions.”
“I’m hoping that this will help us not just create better messaging and create better trust relationships related to the COVID vaccine, but also to other vaccines,” Guidry said. “We’re still dealing with COVID, but we may be able to extrapolate this to the flu vaccine, the HPV vaccine, the MMR vaccine, to the next pandemic’s vaccine.”
One of the key findings was that those the study authors characterized as “trusted faith leaders” could re-enforce attitudes about vaccination. VCU news continues:
“We asked [study participants], would any of these affect your likelihood to get the vaccine: If your pastor said they were vaccinated? Or if your pastor encouraged vaccination from the pulpit? Or if you could get information about the vaccine in your church?” Guidry said. “Those faith-based variables made it more likely for people to say ‘Yes, if those things were in place, that could affect my decision.'”
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