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More education needed to boost area vax rate

The Mirror’s front page recently carried a Philadelphia Inquirer report about hospitals overflowing during this omicron infestation.

Few legitimate medical experts, regardless of political orientation, doubt that COVID vaccination is key to taming the pandemic. Yet the vaccination rate in Blair County remains under 50%, with hundreds of new COVID cases weekly.

Sadly, over the past two years this area has been notable for its indifference to masking and other public health recommendations.

A local medical psychology team has developed a list of 10 plausible factors and 40 sub-factors that presumably account for vaccine rejection.

Major factors appear to be genetics (like an inborn tendency that allows emotion to predominate over intellect); misinformation (like “vaccinations are dangerous”); disinformation (as provided by forces hostile to democracy); cognitive errors (like failing to grasp the vital importance of public health measures); suspiciousness (like QAnon conspiracy theories); and overzealous Us vs. Them Partisanship.

Physicians report that patients who refuse vaccination offer explanations that sound hollow, reflecting misinformation and inconsistency.

Vaccine mandates are substantially effective, but many people value personal choice over “the general welfare.”

Insufficient knowledge of the scientific method, statistics, public health, critical thinking, and moral reasoning fosters some instances of vaccine refusal.

So education could have a role in reducing vaccination hesitancy.

Joseph S. Silverman, MD

Hollidaysburg

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