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Image4_Tackling Vaccine Hesitancy and Increasing Vaccine Willingness Among Parents of Unvaccinated Children in Austria.JPEG (39.28 kB)
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Image4_Tackling Vaccine Hesitancy and Increasing Vaccine Willingness Among Parents of Unvaccinated Children in Austria.JPEG

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posted on 2023-08-28, 04:02 authored by Christian Lenart, Marlene Prager, Marlene Sachs, Christoph Steininger, Charlene Fernandes, Jakob Thannesberger

Objectives: In autumn 2021, there was a surge of COVID-19 infections in Austria, and vaccination coverage stagnated at a below-average level compared to the rest of Europe. Surveys showed that both children and adolescents were the main drivers of the rising infection rates and that vaccination numbers were particularly low in this age group. This was due to widespread vaccination skepticism and hesitancy among parents of unvaccinated children and adolescents.

Methods: Here, we describe a novel intervention concept that allowed us to efficiently tackle parental vaccine hesitancy. We designed an intervention series that followed a reproducible format based on online face-to-face seminars in groups of a maximum of twenty people. Each seminar included an anonymous online questionnaire for internal quality control. Moreover, we assessed the motives of parental vaccine hesitancy and asked participants to rate subjective vaccine willingness for their children on a scale of zero to ten.

Results: Within 8 weeks, more than 580 people participated in the seminar series. We found that concerns about the side effects of the vaccine were the predominant motive of vaccination hesitancy among the study population. Overall, the intervention could successfully increase the median parental vaccination willingness of participants from a score of five to eight. We identified tree hesitancy motives (distrust towards the pharmaceutical industry, the government, or feelings of restriction from personal freedom) that were associated with below-average vaccination willingness and significant lower increase.

Conclusion: With this study we analyzed motives driving COVID-19 vaccination hesitancy among parents of unvaccinated children and reasons of parents to restrain their children from getting vaccinated. The intervention method described here, could effectively address individual concerns on a personal level while at the same time reach a large number of people across geographical and language barriers. Thereby we could significantly increase subjective vaccination willingness of the participants. Our approach is easy to apply, highly cost-effective, and can be used to tackle any kind of medical misinformation.

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