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New study could help promote COVID booster shots among hesitant residents

Virus Outbreak covid Vaccines
Ted Jackson/AP
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FR 171790AP
FILE - Medical personnel place pre-loaded syringes as they vaccinate students at KIPP Believe Charter School in New Orleans, Jan. 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Ted Jackson, File)

New research from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa is shedding light on who is getting booster shots in Hawaiʻi, and on how trust and consumption of different information sources affect that decision.

Researchers found that individuals who got vaccinated early tended to have more years of schooling and more trust and consumption of official information sources like doctors and the government.

The majority of this group, 70%, got booster shots.

Those who waited to get vaccinated or who remain unvaccinated have lower levels of trust in official sources of information, and only 30% of that group got boosters.

Ruben Juarez, a UH economics professor on the study, says they followed a cohort of about 1,600 individuals over a year and were able to measure how attitudes changed over time.

"Late vaccinees who waited maybe because they were hesitant of it initially, if they took the booster shot, they increased their trust in official information sources," Juarez said. "So basically we have someone who was initially hesitant of the vaccine, maybe due to side effects or other reasons, they took the vaccine, they said it's not a big deal and then they go ahead and take the booster shot."

"These results reinforce the need to nurture trust and promote health literacy in communities which our model predicts will improve vaccine uptake including boosters," he told HPR.

These findings come as Hawaiʻi prepares to receive doses of the newly-approved booster shot, and researchers believe it will help uncover strategies to more effectively get people boosted.

Kuʻuwehi Hiraishi is a general assignment reporter at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Her commitment to her Native Hawaiian community and her fluency in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi has led her to build a de facto ʻōiwi beat at the news station. Send your story ideas to her at khiraishi@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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