Researcher Examines Role of Social Circle COVID-19 Illness and Vaccination Experiences

Around the world, policymakers have clearly communicated that COVID-19 vaccination programs need to be accepted by a large proportion of the population to allow life return to normal; however, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 31% of the United States population had not completed the primary vaccination series as of November 2022.

The primary aim of this work by Skidmore (2023) is to identify the factors associated by American citizens with the decision to be vaccinated against COVID-19. In addition, the proportion of fatal events from COVID-19 vaccinations was estimated and compared with the data in the VAERS database.

An online survey of COVID-19 health experiences was conducted. Information was collected regarding reasons for and against COVID-19 inoculations, experiences with COVID-19 illness and COVID-19 inoculations by survey respondents and their social circles. Logit regression analyses were carried out to identify factors influencing the likelihood of being vaccinated.

A total of 2840 participants completed the survey between Dec.18 and 23, 2021. 51% (1383 of 2840) of the participants were female and the mean age was 47 (95% CI 46.36–47.64) years. Those who knew someone who experienced a health problem from COVID-19 were more likely to be vaccinated (OR: 1.309, 95% CI 1.094–1.566), while those who knew someone who experienced a health problem following vaccination were less likely to be vaccinated (OR: 0.567, 95% CI 0.461–0.698). 34% (959 of 2840) reported that they knew at least one person who had experienced a significant health problem due to the COVID-19 illness. Similarly, 22% (612 of 2840) of respondents indicated that they knew at least one person who had experienced a severe health problem following COVID-19 vaccination. With these survey data, the total number of fatalities due to COVID-19 inoculation may be as high as 278,000 (95% CI 217,330–332,608) when fatalities that may have occurred regardless of inoculation are removed.

Knowing someone who reported serious health issues either from COVID-19 or from COVID-19 vaccination are important factors for the decision to get vaccinated, the researcher concludes. The large difference in the possible number of fatalities due to COVID-19 vaccination that emerges from this survey and the available governmental data should be further investigated.

Reference: Skidmore M. The role of social circle COVID-19 illness and vaccination experiences in COVID-19 vaccination decisions: an online survey of the United States population. BMC Infectious Diseases. Vol. 23, article number 51 (2023).