The CDC has rated Goodhue and Pierce County with moderate to low COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy. Health leaders urge residents to have open conversations with those who are hesitant about getting the vaccine, but are willing to learn more.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released their estimates of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in the United States.
Minnesota overall received a moderate rating with Goodhue County’s estimated hesitancy at 12%. This means that 12% of Goodhue County’s population is hesitant to receive any vaccine- Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson.
“We are seeing declining interest in our vaccination clinics,” Jessica Seide, a community health specialist for Goodhue County Health and Human services, said. “We do not know how much of that decline is due to hesitancy or other reasons.”
Pierce County’s vaccine hesitancy rate is 18%.
“Of course, we are experiencing vaccine hesitancy among a certain portion of our population,” AZ Snyder, public health director for Pierce County, said. “There are different types of vaccine hesitancy. There's a small group whose minds we will never change. I believe this is a small percentage of Pierce County residents.”
The CDC used the survey question of, “Once a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 is available to you, would you get a vaccine?” to determine the hesitancy rate. The person taking the survey was able to choose from four different answers.
Answer 1: Definitely get a vaccine
Answer 2: Probably get a vaccine
Answer 3: Probably not get a vaccine
Answer 4: Definitely not get a vaccine
The CDC used all the survey responses that were “probably not” or “definitely not” to calculate the vaccine hesitancy rating.
It is estimated that 25.6% of adults 18 and older in Goodhue County have already been vaccinated and 15.75% in Pierce County, according to the CDC.
Snyder said instead of trying to change minds that have already been made up, people should focus their energy on those who are concerned about vaccine safety and effectiveness, but still want to know more.
“ . . . people who won't go out of their way to get a vaccine, but would get if we came to their workplace or somewhere they would already be,” Snyder said. “Or people that are worried about the side effects and don't want to miss work, but would get the vaccine if their employer was supportive. These populations are where we are going to make up the ground we need to end this pandemic.”
Snyder urges all residents to talk to their friends, family, co-workers and neighbors about the vaccine. Having open conversations can increase the chances of someone getting the vaccine who was hesitant before.
Snyder's tips for talking to loved ones about vaccines are as follows:
Show empathy. Acknowledge emotions and fears people might have around being vaccinated.
Ask questions. Ask questions to understand why they might be hesitant. Try not to be judgmental. Don't offer information quite yet.
Ask permission to share. After listening to their concerns, ask if you can provide information based on what you've learned from trustworthy sources like the CDC or your physician. If you don't have answers to their questions, consider offering to help look up the answers using reliable sources.
Find the why. Steer the conversation to the positive. Why might this person want to get vaccinated? Why did you get vaccinated?
Get them there. We all need an accountability buddy! When they're ready, share locations to be vaccinated or help them make an appointment. Offer to give them a ride or babysit the kiddos. Support them in making it to their shot however they need.