What might convince unvaccinated people in NC to get shots? A survey may have answers.

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Resistance to COVID-19 vaccinations in North Carolina softened over this year, with fewer people saying that they would probably never get the shots, according to state surveys.

But among those who remain unvaccinated, many say they are worried about side effects and don’t trust the government to ensure that the vaccines are safe.

The pool of unvaccinated people continues to shrink. The jump in vaccinations that came with the COVID-19 surge that filled hospitals in the last few months has faded, however.

As of Thursday, 65% of North Carolina residents 18 and older were fully vaccinated, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

Surveys of state residents have shown over time a shrinking proportion of respondents who said they probably won’t or definitely won’t be vaccinated.

The ‘probably not/definitely not’ response was at 25% back in November 2020. It dropped to 21% in March and May surveys, and was at 15% in September.

Sarah Hutchinson, a partner with the marketing firm Neimand Collaborative, presented the state survey results to a group of Latina doctors, public health professionals, community health workers and others  at a meeting of LATIN-19 this week. LATIN-19 works to get COVID-19 information, testing, and vaccinations to local Latino communities.

About 1,500 people took a 14-minute online survey in September that was supplemented with one-on-one interviews and with an over-sample of 274 unvaccinated residents.

The survey found that, overall, seven in 10 people said they would advise their friends and family be vaccinated.

The FDA full approval of the Pfizer vaccine in August didn’t make much difference to unvaccinated people. Sixty-six percent of people who were unvaccinated and had no plans to be said the full FDA approval made no difference to them.  Fifteen percent said the full approval made them more interested in getting shots, and 18% said FDA approval made them less interested.

Benefits of vaccination that unvaccinated people were most interested in were preventing serious health problems; feeling protected while spending time with family and friends, and getting things “back to normal.”

More than 70% of unvaccinated people said they were worried about side effects, didn’t trust the government, didn’t want to be a “test case,” and thought the vaccines were rushed through testing and approval.

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