Appalachians lukewarm on COVID-19 vaccine in Ohio, study shows

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FILE – This Dec. 2, 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine protects against COVID-19, according to an analysis by U.S. regulators Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, that sets the stage for a final decision on a new and easier-to-use shot to help tame the pandemic. The Food and Drug Administration’s scientists confirmed that overall, it’s about 66% effective and also said J&J’s shot, one that could help speed vaccinations by requiring just one dose instead of two, is safe to use. (Johnson & Johnson via AP)

ATHENS, Ohio (WCMH) — A study from Ohio University shows that Appalachian residents are lukewarm about the COVID-19 vaccine, with about half willing to get the shot.

The study surveyed 2,300 adults in January. It found that 63.3% of suburban residents and 59.2% of metropolitan residents are willing to get a vaccine.

But only 52.2% of rural Appalachian residents and 57.7% of rural non-Appalachian residents agreed, a news release about the study said.

By age group, residents age 18-24 had the lowest vaccine acceptance rate at 44.3%, while those 55 and older had the highest at 72.4%. Women (54.2%) were also less likely to accept the vaccine than men (64%).

White residents were also more likely (61%) to accept than Black (45.3%) or Hispanic (48.4%) residents.

Additionally, the study showed that less than half of residents with a high school diploma (49.7%) were accepting of vaccines while those with education beyond high school were much more accepting (70.7%).

Younger people, men and blue-collar workers are less likely to adopt preventative measures like wearing a mask, washing hands and physical distancing than other groups, the news release said.

Respondents who weren’t willing to get a vaccine cited cost, safety and efficacy as their main concerns.

“As Ohioans struggle to get past this pandemic, it’s very important for us to understand what factors are leading people to resist behaviors that will help, such as wearing masks and getting a vaccine,” said Kenneth Johnson, D.O., chief medical affairs officer at OHIO and executive dean of the Heritage College, in a news release. “This understanding provides us with a greater opportunity to help people overcome fears and do what they can to eliminate COVID-19.”

The study included collaborators from the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, College of Health Sciences and Professions, and Scripps College of Communication. The Ohio Alliance for Innovation in Population Health also contributed to the study. The study was supported with funding from the Heritage College Research and Scholarly Awards Committee, the press release said.

An executive summary of the study can be downloaded here.

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