The fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is straining hospital networks, upsetting many and refusing a vaccine seems silly. To better understand what causes refusal or delay in vaccination, it is important to identify the psychological barriers behind the decision.
As a clinical psychologist who works primarily with adults suffering from personality, anxiety, and mood disorders, I have a front line view of the distress, frustration, and discomfort of people at the center of this epidemic. There is seat. Behind vaccination refusal, there is a complex emotional spectrum that colors each individual’s behavior and choices.
In addition to religious and cultural reasons or health conditions that justify not receiving the vaccine, the choice to refuse vaccination may be explained by a number of other factors. The following nine factors provide a good picture of the complexity of the situation.
misunderstanding and lack of information
The first obstacle is a lack of understanding about vaccines or a misunderstanding of the need for vaccination.
Faced with conflicting opinions and a lack of information, some people wonder: Why should you get vaccinated if you can still catch the virus and transmit it? Why vaccinate young people if they are less vulnerable to the virus?
Not getting satisfactory answers to these questions can paralyze one’s thinking and reduce their willingness to take action.
Read more: A researcher’s perspective on the COVID-19 vaccine hitch: the scientific process needed to better explain
Fear of Needles…and Vaccines
Some people have a strong fear of needles or pain related to vaccinations. While this fear may seem illogical to others, it is something the sufferer feels intensely.
Fears about needles or pain sometimes create so much anxiety that it can lead to avoidance of any situation that involves vaccination. Sometimes just looking at pictures of vaccinations can cause anxiety.
Read more: Fear of needles may cause COVID-19 vaccine hesitation, but these strategies can manage pain and fear
In other cases, the fear is related to the possible side effects of the vaccine. Some people cannot refuse vaccination, but will wait until more people are vaccinated to see if there are any long-term side effects.
feeling of helplessness
Another psychological barrier comes from feelings of helplessness and discouragement in response to the possibility that the epidemic will continue despite vaccination efforts, especially given the detection of new forms.
The term “epidemic fatigue” refers to the tired and discouraged feeling that arises in times of crisis when events appear to be repeating themselves. Resignation and loss of hope can lead to reduced motivation, and a reluctance to follow recommendations, including vaccination.
aware but not worried
Others are aware of the pandemic’s impact, but don’t feel personally concerned: “I’m healthy, so that protects me.”
These individuals often lack knowledge about disease and vaccination, so they are not particularly concerned about the harmful effects of the virus on their health or the risks of transmission to others. It is worth noting that these people are not really opponents of the vaccine.
mistrust of material
Some people pay close attention to what goes into their bodies and may be concerned about the ingredients of the COVID-19 vaccine. They experience visceral discomfort at the thought of receiving the vaccination, and may view the COVID-19 vaccine as intrusive, contamination, or aggression.
Due to not knowing about the ingredients of the vaccine, they may be reluctant or even resist getting it.
worry and denial
Everyone reacts differently to anxiety-provoking situations. Some will jump into action and look for solutions, others will confide in their loved ones or feel emotionally overwhelmed.
Still others will go into denial. Denial is an automatic, unconscious reflex that works as a Band-Aid for controlling anxiety. In the context of the pandemic, this can be expressed as a denial of the severity of the disease, a denial of one’s vulnerability to contracting the virus, or even a denial of the virus’ existence.
feelings of rejection and exclusion
As social animals, we are extremely sensitive to rejection. Rejection can be more common and painful for some than others. These people feel more excluded from society and do not recognize themselves in official discourse or norms proposed in response to the pandemic.
When health measures are announced, these people can control them. When one feels that one is neither represented nor heard by authorities, or when one is parodied or criticized by other groups in society, wounds of the past marked by disapproval are reactivated. and is run again.
These people will also feel excluded and less likely to follow recommendations. They are more likely to be better understood by alternative and refractory voices that make them feel heard at last.
dependency and conflict avoidance
Some people are too dependent on the opinions of those closest to them. The dynamics of the relationship are such that the individual doubts himself, relies on the other person to make day-to-day decisions, and idealizes the other person or attempts to minimize conflict with them.
In these cases, the individual’s condition and choice will be influenced by the fact that their partner does not view vaccination as important.
crisis of confidence
The previously mentioned factors, such as distrust, denial and disapproval of what goes into the body, can crystallize into a greater distrust of government sources, health officials, and the pharmaceutical industry. It could also turn into a crisis of trust and mistrust of public health recommendations.
Belief in conspiracy theories and a rejection of authority can shape one’s thinking and identity. This has created a threat of polarization.
Other factors can be added to this list that contribute to vaccine hesitancy and denial. As a psychologist, I find it necessary to understand why someone refuses vaccination. Measures and solutions to encourage vaccination reach people in different ways, depending on how they process the information.
Some will need an explanation, others will need to be with them at the time of vaccination, and still others will need to be in a place where they listen and feel their irritation is acknowledged. Finally, some people would prefer to follow alternative recommendations, such as getting regular screening tests, to avoid feeling “controlled.”
To offer relevant solutions and move forward collectively in this pandemic crisis, we need to better understand each other’s responses. I believe this understanding will better guide officials in both communicating information and making and presenting decisions on public health measures. To respect any measure, we must know the underlying reasons people disapprove.
Do you have questions about COVID-19 vaccines? Email us at ca‑[email protected] and vaccine experts will answer questions in upcoming articles.