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Jasuja GK, Meterko M, Bradshaw LD, Carbonaro R, Clayman ML, LoBrutto L, Miano D, Maguire EM, Midboe AM, Asch SM, Gifford AL, McInnes DK, Elwy AR. Attitudes and Intentions of US Veterans Regarding COVID-19 Vaccination. JAMA Network Open. 2021 Nov 1; 4(11):e2132548.
IMPORTANCE: Compared with the general population, veterans are at high risk for COVID-19 and have a complex relationship with the government. This potentially affects their attitudes toward receiving COVID-19 vaccines. OBJECTIVE: To assess veterans'' attitudes toward and intentions to receive COVID-19 vaccines. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: This cross-sectional web-based survey study used data from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Survey of Healthcare Experiences of Patients'' Veterans Insight Panel, fielded between March 12 and 28, 2021. Of 3420 veterans who were sent a link to complete a 58-item web-based survey, 1178 veterans (34%) completed the survey. Data were analyzed from April 1 to August 25, 2021. EXPOSURES: Veterans eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: The outcomes of interest were veterans'' experiences with COVID-19, vaccination status and intention groups, reasons for receiving or not receiving a vaccine, self-reported health status, and trusted and preferred sources of information about COVID-19 vaccines. Reasons for not getting vaccinated were classified into categories of vaccine deliberation, dissent, distrust, indifference, skepticism, and policy and processes. RESULTS: Among 1178 respondents, 974 (83%) were men, 130 (11%) were women, and 141 (12%) were transgender or nonbinary; 58 respondents (5%) were Black, 54 veterans (5%) were Hispanic or Latino, and 987 veterans (84%) were non-Hispanic White. The mean (SD) age of respondents was 66.7 (10.1) years. A total of 817 respondents (71%) self-reported being vaccinated against COVID-19. Of 339 respondents (29%) who were not vaccinated, those unsure of getting vaccinated were more likely to report fair or poor overall health (32 respondents [43%]) and mental health (33 respondents [44%]) than other nonvaccinated groups (overall health: range, 20%-32%; mental health: range, 18%-40%). Top reasons for not being vaccinated were skepticism (120 respondents [36%] were concerned about side effects; 65 respondents [20%] preferred using few medications; 63 respondents [19%] preferred gaining natural immunity), deliberation (74 respondents [22%] preferred to wait because vaccine is new), and distrust (61 respondents [18%] did not trust the health care system). Among respondents who were vaccinated, preventing oneself from getting sick (462 respondents [57%]) and contributing to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic (453 respondents [56%]) were top reasons for getting vaccinated. All veterans reported the VA as 1 of their top trusted sources of information. The proportion of respondents trusting their VA health care practitioner as a source of vaccine information was higher among those unsure about vaccination compared with those who indicated they would definitely not or probably not get vaccinated (18 respondents [26%] vs 15 respondents [15%]). There were no significant associations between vaccine intention groups and age (?24? = 5.90; P? = .21) or gender (?22? = 3.99; P? = .14). CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: These findings provide information needed to develop trusted messages used in conversations between VA health care practitioners and veterans addressing specific vaccine hesitancy reasons, as well as those in worse health. Conversations need to emphasize societal reasons for getting vaccinated and benefits to one''s own health.