'Vaccine hesitancy' worries Idaho health officials

Posted at 4:36 PM, Mar 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-11 09:32:32-05

IDAHO — A large number of Idahoans have already been vaccinated, but according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW), the demand has started to decline.

Pharmacies and providers have had trouble filling some vaccine appointments, and officials say vaccine hesitancy and a lack of education about the doses could be a leading factor.

“The vast majority of the reason people are hesitant is really around is, is it safe and what are the side effects,” IDHW Director Dave Jeppesen said.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Christine Hahn said alongside the hesitancy is a need to educate people about vaccines. Hahn said hopefully seeing others have successful outcomes will lead more people to get vaccinated down the road.

“Hopefully some people, as time goes on, they see their friends and their neighbors and maybe leaders in their community get vaccinated and not have any problems. We are hoping that vaccine confidence and interest in vaccination will continue to increase,” Hahn said.

According to a rough survey done by the state, there are roughly 60% of Idahoans anxiously waiting for a vaccine, leaving the other 40% roughly split between two groups.

"The numbers get a little bit squishier and somewhere around 20% of the population are interested but are going to wait and see how this goes,” Jeppesen said. “And that leaves about 20% of the population that has some belief that they're never going to take it or they're going to be much harder to convince to take the vaccine."

Jeppesen also said the state is planning on running a PSA or campaign specially targeted at those who are hesitant or concerned with vaccine side effects.

“That is going to be based on research we have done AND what those concerns are. We expect that campaign to start in the very first part of April,” Jeppesen said.

Vaccine appointments are still available for those currently in the eligible priority groups and officials encourage those to make an appointment or join the state's pre-registrationlist.