Addressing Vaccine Hesitancy with Research

RAND senior physician policy researcher Courtney Gidengil reveals the biggest driver behind the hesitancy to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. She explains the effects vaccine hesitancy is having on routine childhood vaccination rates and could have on the management of the next pandemic.


Courtney A. Gidengil, Senior Physician Policy Researcher

What motivated me to pursue this project is really a longstanding passion about understanding why people want to get vaccinated or don't want to get vaccinated and what we can do about that. So, when the COVID-19 pandemic came around and we had this opportunity to support the CDC through this survey collaborative, we really leapt at that chance to help inform policy in real time.

We learned a lot from the surveys directly about what the concerns of the public are. And really the number one concern that is cited by those who are hesitant to get vaccinated is wanting to know more about safety, including long-term safety. And then, of course, there's the concern that that could and maybe is carrying over to other vaccines. So, for example, the routine childhood vaccines that every child needs, those rates have been dropping a little bit over the last few months, and that's definitely cause for concern for anyone who takes care of kids, especially in a medical capacity, and for communities, of course, to just keep everyone protected.

There's always been some vaccine hesitancy and it's really a concern just looking ahead to the next booster, to the next pandemic when vaccines may be needed again. It's really important to keep trust up, to have just very objective research about this and rigorous research. So, RAND is really well-positioned in this area to help gather information, frame it for policymakers, and understand next steps moving forward.