Acceptability of COVID-19 vaccination among high school students in South Carolina
Vaccines are a key tool to control the spread of COVID-19 and have been shown to be effective in reducing the severity of symptomatic disease. Roll-out of the first vaccine began in December 2020 in the United States, however, vaccination rates have plateaued. The surge of the highly infectious delta and the recent increase in hospitalizations in the unvaccinated and younger populations including teens has exemplified the need to improve vaccine uptake. However, negative attitudes toward vaccination remains a barrier to the scale up of the COVID-19 vaccine. We conducted a survey in one high school in South Carolina to determine the willingness of the students to get vaccinated and the factors that determined their attitudes. Less than 60% of students said that they would get the vaccine when it became available. COVID-19 vaccine acceptance was positively correlated with perceived severity of the disease, gender, those with parents who are healthcare workers and acceptance of behavioral mitigation measures such as mask use. There is an urgent need for social behavior change campaigns that target specific perceptions and misconceptions that may influence uptake.
Full paper available upon request