COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in eastern Oslo: Addressing sociodemographic determinants and main reasons for vaccine hesitancy. A cross-sectional study.
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Background: Vaccines are an essential public health strategy to curb viral infection spreading and hinge on vaccine uptake which may be threatened by vaccine hesitant individuals. This study therefore aims to address sociodemographic predictors of vaccine hesitancy, main reasons for vaccine hesitancy, and how these reasons are explained by sociodemographic characteristics during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: A cross-sectional study (N = 5442) was carried out in June 2021 among six eastern Oslo districts with high infection pressure. Sociodemographic variables included gender, age, country of birth, education, and household income. Binary logistic regression models were used to explore predictors of both vaccine hesitancy and specific reasons. Main reasons for vaccine hesitancy were assessed through descriptive statistics. Results: Vaccine hesitancy was overall low (5.8%). Findings stress the vulnerable position of younger age, participants born outside of Norway, lower education, and lower household income in relation to vaccine hesitancy proneness. Hesitancy was mainly grounded in confidence barriers such as fear of side effects (55.8%) and little experience with the vaccines (50.2%). Otherwise, complacency barriers such as not feeling to belong to a risk group (46.1%), not needing the vaccines (39.1%), and wanting the body to develop natural immunity (29.3%) were frequently present. Results indicated overall high trust in health authorities and professionals. Women and participants born in Norway were more likely hesitant due to a lack of confidence in the vaccines. Complacency barriers were less likely present among older age (60+) and participants born outside of Norway. Conclusions: Varying determinants of vaccine hesitancy and barrier trends among population groups emphasize the importance of clear public health communication about the risks, benefits, and importance of vaccines. Future studies with a larger sample should verify current findings and further explore the prevalence of convenience barriers. Norwegian health authorities should take these results into account and develop different public health strategies targeted at vulnerable population groups during the current and forthcoming pandemics to increase vaccine uptake and reach sufficient immunization.
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