An extensive survey of consumer attitudes on COVID vaccinations in the region was shared with members of the RegionAHEAD alliance this week. A survey of 768 consumers in the 22-county region of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia will help the team craft a public service campaign to help those considering a vaccination to be informed and encouraged to be inoculated against the virus.
The survey was conducted by experts in soliciting consumer insights. Smarty Pants, a local market research firm, fielded a broadly distributed online survey and conducted telephone and in-person interviews with regional residents over the past two weeks. “We found that there is an opportunity to encourage nearly 30 percent of those surveyed who plan to wait before getting their vaccination or are still unsure about being vaccinated,” says Wynne Tyree, president of Smarty Pants, who donated the firm’s efforts on behalf of the alliance.
The survey found that 65 percent of respondents intend to be vaccinated as soon as they are scheduled and when enough vaccines are available. Meanwhile, 8 percent say they won’t consider vaccination. In the middle were 16 percent who say that they plan to be vaccinated after waiting 1-6 months and 11 percent who say that they are still not sure.
“Like nearly everything about this pandemic there are some very polarizing issues. Today, we’ve learned that whether to get vaccinated is certainly one,” says Andy Dietrich, an organizer of the alliance. “We hope to use this data to develop ways to encourage more who are in the middle of the debate to have credible and believable reasons why they should be vaccinated.”
“The survey found that this is an extremely personal decision,” says Tyree. “People want to make the best health decision for themselves and the ones they love, yet roughly a third have concerns about the speed at which the vaccines were developed, their effectiveness in preventing a COVID infection, and the longevity of that effectiveness. It appears that hearing more from trusted physicians, nurses and infectious disease experts about the safety and importance of getting vaccinated can have a powerful influence on those who are still making their decisions.”
Among those who say they will be vaccinated, 89 percent say that the media is accurate or is underestimating the negative impact the virus is having on the region, while 64 percent of those unwilling to consider vaccination say COVID’s impact here has be overblown. As for the importance of vaccination to the overall benefit to the region, 98 percent of those who intend to be vaccinated say that it is very important while 64 percent of those who say they will not be vaccinated say while only 15 percent of those who plan to not be vaccinated say the same.
The survey found that current information on the short and long-term effects of the vaccinations, the ingredients of the two vaccines and the efficacy of the vaccines in various demographics and on possible strains of the COVID virus now emerging should be considered in creating a public service campaign.
“We believe that getting vaccinated is the only way that someone can have the peace of mind of knowing that they are protected,” says Lottie Ryans, director of Workforce & Literacy Initiatives of the First Tennessee Development District and an alliance member. “What we’ve heard today can help those of any age, race or political persuasion make an informed decision on why they should take the vaccine.”
For more information on vaccinations in the region, go to RegionAhead.com/Vaccinations.