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Reaching the Unvaccinated

As more groups and individuals join the ranks of fully vaccinated,  another ~40% of New Mexicans and ~50% of Americans have reported a myriad of reasons they are hesitant to get vaccinated.

Recently, KOB 4 Eyewitness News gathered information on a research poll conducted by UNM policy professors. This poll featured over 2,000 responses from New Mexicans in regards to how New Mexicans feel about the Covid-19 vaccines. This research suggests that currently, 36% of unvaccinated New Mexicans intend on never getting the shot (that is 10% of everyone 18+ and 8% of the entire state). They found that vaccine hesitancy is extremely high among rural New Mexicans and Native Americans. Hispanics/Latinos and other minorities had a lower than average vaccine hesitancy rate. The study also found that younger people were less concerned about getting the shot as they felt it was unnecessary. 

This study delved into the various reasons many groups face uncertainty about the vaccine. Some things contributing to such hesitancy within New Mexico include, but are not limited to, cultural beliefs, political beliefs (51% of unvaccinated Republicans say they will never get the shot), overall stress about the moment they get the shot (many people prefer to get their jab through a health care professional familiar and trustworthy to them), misinformation in regards to Covid-19 vaccinations (the uninsured can still get the vaccine), and lack of equitable access. 

A crucial takeaway for advocates is that not all unvaccinated individuals are against the vaccine. Two-thirds of the unvaccinated in New Mexico do intend to get the vaccine eventually but are hesitant or lack equitable access. For these individuals, making the vaccine as accessible as possible, mitigating potential hesitancies such as the fear of missing work, as well as education towards the true science behind the vaccine, will be crucial in the effort to increase vaccination rates.

To help combat the significant number of individuals with a lack of vaccine access, Health Action has embarked on a targeted vaccine project to get rural older adults and farmworkers vaccinated. These efforts will include direct and indirect outreach, acting as a liaison between rural communities and state vaccination programs, and burgeoning partnerships with local clinics and trusted messengers to spread the word about how to get the vaccine. 

Only through on-the-ground, grassroots efforts and direct, tailored action can we begin to witness a shift towards trust in the vaccine among the unvaccinated and increased vaccination rates in rural and vulnerable populations. If the vaccine becomes more available and outreach efforts overcome hesitancy, New Mexico can get ahead of Covid-19 and the Delta variant and prevent more loss of life.

Contact gabriella@healthactionnm.org for information about this project.

Written by Katelyn Patchell, Gurleen Sembhi, and Gabriella Rivera

Health Action