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Communicating about COVID-19 vaccine development and safety.

Thorpe A, Fagerlin A, Butler J, Stevens V, Drews FA, Shoemaker H, Riddoch MS, Scherer LD. Communicating about COVID-19 vaccine development and safety. PLoS ONE. 2022 Aug 5; 17(8):e0272426.

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PURPOSE: Beliefs that the risks from a COVID-19 vaccine outweigh the risks from getting COVID-19 and concerns that the vaccine development process was rushed and lacking rigor have been identified as important drivers of hesitancy and refusal to get a COVID-19 vaccine. We tested whether messages designed to address these beliefs and concerns might promote intentions to get a COVID-19 vaccine. METHOD: We conducted an online survey fielded between March 8-23, 2021 with US Veteran (n = 688) and non-Veteran (n = 387) respondents. In a between-subjects experiment, respondents were randomly assigned to a control group (with no message) or to read one of two intervention messages: 1. a fact-box styled message comparing the risks of getting COVID-19 compared to the vaccine, and 2. a timeline styled message describing the development process of the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines. RESULTS: Most respondents (60%) wanted a COVID-19 vaccine. However, 17% expressed hesitancy and 23% did not want to get a COVID-19 vaccine. The fact-box styled message and the timeline message did not significantly improve vaccination intentions, F(2,358) = 0.86, p = .425, [Formula: see text] = .005, or reduce the time respondents wanted to wait before getting vaccinated, F(2,306) = 0.79, p = .453, [Formula: see text] = .005, compared to no messages. DISCUSSION: In this experimental study, we did not find that providing messages about vaccine risks and the development process had an impact on respondents'' vaccine intentions. Further research is needed to identify how to effectively address concerns about the risks associated with COVID-19 vaccines and the development process and to understand additional factors that influence vaccine intentions.

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