Most people welcomed the opportunity to be vaccinated against COVID-19, but a minority did not. People who are hostile to vaccines tend to adopt strong views and firmly reject medical or public health recommendations.
This surprises many people and the issue has become a hot spot in many countries. This strained relations, even within families, and at the macro level threatened social cohesion.
This begs the question: Where do these strong anti-vaccination sentiments often come from? Richie Bolton, Director of CNZM FRSNZ: Dunedin Interdisciplinary Health Research and Development Unit (DMHDRU), University of Otago explained; Avshalom Caspi, a professor at Duke University, and Terry Moffett, a professor of psychology at Nannerle Keohane University, as life course researchers, argue that many adult attitudes, traits, and behaviors have their roots in childhood. This insight prompted investigations into vaccine resistance among members of the Dunedin Long-Term Study, which falls 50 years this month.
Specifically, they surveyed study members about their vaccination goals between April and July 2021, shortly before the introduction of the national vaccine that began in New Zealand in August 2021. The findings support the idea that anti-vaccination views stem from childhood experiences .
The Dunedin study, which followed the 1972-1973 birth group, gathered a wealth of information on many aspects of the 1037 participants’s lives, including their physical health and personal experiences, as well as long-term values, motivations, lifestyle, processing of information. skills, emotional inclinations, and return to childhood.
Nearly 90% of the members of the Dunedin Study responded to the 2021 survey on the intent to vaccinate. They found that 13 percent of the group did not plan to be vaccinated (with a similar number of men and women).
When researchers compared the early life stories of those who were vaccine-resistant with those who were not vaccine-resistant, they found that many vaccine-resistant adults had a history of negative childhood experiences, including abuse, deprivation, or neglect. or having an alcoholic. parents.
These experiences would have made their childhood unpredictable and contributed to an eternal legacy of distrust of the authorities.
Personality tests at age 18 showed that people in the vaccine-resistant group were prone to frequent feelings of fear and anger. And they tended to shut down mentally when they were under stress.
They also felt fatalistic about health issues, reporting at the age of 15 on a scale called the “Health Control Center” that people could do nothing to improve their health. As teenagers, they often misinterpreted situations by unnecessarily jumping to the conclusion that they were being threatened.
The resistance group also described itself as a non-conformist who values personal freedom and self-reliance on following social norms. And as they grew up, he struggled with mental health problems characterized by apathy, wrong decision-making, and sensitivity to conspiracy theories.
To make matters worse, some of the study vaccine-resistant members had cognitive difficulties since childhood, along with their early life difficulties and emotional weaknesses. They were poor readers in high school and had low scores on verbal comprehension and processing speed study tests. These tests measure how much effort and time a person needs to decipher the information received.
Such long-term cognitive difficulties will certainly make it difficult for anyone to understand complex health information in the most relaxed circumstances. But when comprehension difficulties are combined with strong negative emotions more common in people who are resistant to vaccines, this can lead to vaccination decisions that seem inexplicable to health professionals.
Today, New Zealand has a very high vaccination rate (95% of those who qualify are over the age of 12), almost 10% higher than England, Wales, Scotland or Ireland and 20% higher than the United States .
Most importantly, the death rate per million in New Zealand is currently 71. This compares favorably with other democracies like the United States with 2,949 deaths per million (40 times the New Zealand rate), the Kingdom united at 2,423 per million (34 times) and Canada at 991 per million (14 times).
The findings emphasize the importance of understanding individual life stories and different ways of thinking about the world – both of which are attributed to the misfortunes that some people experienced early in their lives. This has the added benefit of encouraging a more benevolent vaccine resistance perspective, which may eventually translate into higher vaccine readiness rates.
For many people, the transition from a single approach to all has happened very slowly and is an important lesson for the future. Another lesson is that achieving a high rate of vaccination has not been without “cost” to individuals, families and communities. Convincing many citizens to get vaccinated has been difficult and it would be unrealistic not to expect resentment or anger to remain among the people most affected by these decisions.
It was recommended that national preparedness for possible future epidemics include preventive education to teach school students about virus epidemiology, infection mechanisms, infection mitigation behaviors, and vaccines. Early education can prepare the public to assess the need for hand washing, masking, social distancing, and vaccination.
Early education about viruses and vaccines can provide citizens with a pre-existing knowledge framework, reduce citizens’ uncertainty about a future pandemic, prevent emotional stress reactions, and promote openness to health messages.