Brief Few Unvaccinated Adults Have Talked to Their Doctors about the COVID-19 Vaccines
Michael Karpman, Stephen Zuckerman
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Though health care providers are among the most trusted sources of information on COVID-19 vaccines, this study finds that few unvaccinated adults had received information about the vaccines from their providers as of April 2021. Using data from the Health Reform Monitoring Survey, a nationally representative survey of more than 9,000 nonelderly adults, we find the following:

  • In early to mid-April 2021, one in five adults (20 percent) ages 18 to 64 reported they were eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine but had not tried to get vaccinated. The most common reasons for not doing so were being concerned about long-term side effects, being concerned the vaccines were developed too quickly or not tested enough, and wanting to know more about how well the vaccines protect people from COVID-19.
  • Two-thirds of self-reported eligible adults who did not try to get vaccinated reported having a doctor or health care provider they considered to be their personal provider. Of those adults, 73 percent reported trusting their providers for information about COVID-19 vaccines, but only 19 percent had ever received information about the vaccines from their providers.
  • About half of self-reported eligible adults who did not try to get vaccinated trusted other doctors and providers in the community (56 percent), family and friends (53 percent), and pharmacists (49 percent) for vaccine information. Smaller shares trusted other community sources, such as religious leaders, elected officials, and social service, neighborhood, or civic organizations.

The large gap between the share of unvaccinated adults who trust their health care providers and the share who received information about the vaccines from their providers reveals a significant opportunity to address hesitancy toward and expand access to the vaccines. Providers are in a key position to listen to patients’ specific concerns about the vaccines, discuss the risks and benefits of vaccination, and potentially provide a shot. States can assist providers in fostering these conversations by ensuring adequate reimbursement for patient education and counseling, helping providers leverage data from immunization registries for outreach to unvaccinated patients, engaging more primary care providers in vaccine distribution, and supporting partnerships among providers, community health workers, and community-based organizations for reaching out to vaccine-hesitant adults.

Research Areas Health and health care
Tags Public health
Policy Centers Health Policy Center