The Psychology of Vaccine Hesitancy: Could the Church Help?

One of the most negative components on how the pandemic has been managed has to do with psychological factors. From the impact of the initial lockdown to pandemic fatigue, the role of behaviors and beliefs in following mitigating measures (e.g. wearing a face mask, social distancing, hand washing) and now, getting vaccinated, all have a major impact on ending the pandemic and saving lives.

A few months ago, my wife and I joined a WhatsApp group created by our former high school classmates as we are approaching the 50th graduation anniversary. We enjoyed seeing pictures of their children and grandchildren, their gardens and homes, and stories of old. However, we were not prepared to see the intense reaction of many regarding the pandemic and now the vaccines: “Covid is a hoax,” “this is a maneuver from those in power to control the people,” “the vaccines are dangerous,” “if you get vaccinated you are a guinea pig,” “trust the natural remedies instead,” “where do you place your trust? Weren’t you supposed to trust God?” These are all graduates of an Adventist school and all the quotations above are from currently active members of the Adventist church. There are a couple of physicians, a handful of nurses, including one who had oversight on vaccination programs at a large city among the skeptics. A brief and excellent video explanation of the Covid vaccines by a committed SDA professor and expert from Loma Linda University was summarily dismissed. My wife, who is a professor in the School of Medicine at Loma Linda and is remembered by our classmates as an excellent student, kindly provided some additional information and was told that she was “misinformed.”

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