As the world continues to move towards post-pandemic life – and, as the World Health Organization recently predicted, it will COVID-19 will end in 2023 AS A PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY – The data suggests that Americans may have reached a state of “vaccine stress.”
A recent study published in Nature Medicine, led by researchers from the Medical University of Vienna, surveyed 6,357 people in Austria and Italy. They found that respondents’ “willingness to be vaccinated” on a scale of 0 to 10 was relatively low – about 5.8 in Italy and 5.3 in Austria.
Participants answered questions about vaccine-related costs, outreach, incentives, and emerging variants of the virus and vaccination requirements.
What is pollen stress?
The American Medical Association defines vaccine fatigue as “unwillingness or inaction on vaccine information or instructions because of perceived burden or fatigue.”
In the United States, evidence of vaccine stress can be seen in the dwindling numbers of people getting boosters for COVID vaccines.
When the vaccines first became available in the summer of 2021, there was a wave of relief — even enthusiasm in some corners — as people lined up to get their shot. By Sept. 1, 2022, 79.2% of Americans had received at least one dose and 67.8% had completed a full primary vaccine series, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
However, there is a sharp decline when it comes to boosting numbers.
As of March 21, 2023, only 16.4% of Americans were up to date on a booster (bivalent) dose, according to CDC data.
Many factors can lead to burnout
Poor trust in medical institutions, governments, and vaccinations was a common thread in the study’s findings, particularly with regard to vaccine mandates.
Discussing the findings, the study authors wrote: “Participants in both countries reported high levels of epidemiological fatigue and showed low to moderate levels of trust in parliament and government.”
Dr. Shana Johnson, MD, a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician In Scottsdale, ArizonaHe was not involved in the study, but reviewed the results.
“A related finding was that vaccine mandates showed no clear effects on the likelihood of getting vaccinated, but they strongly affected trust in vaccines negatively,” she told Fox News Digital.
She added, “According to the study, a more effective strategy to encourage vaccination is to promote community spirit while retaining medical choice.”
One medical director said people are tired of hearing about new variants, boosters, and vaccine updates.
And Dr. Johnson noted that some reject the vaccine simply because they think they don’t need it — and in some cases, they may be right.
“The ferocity or danger of the COVID virus varies greatly based on age and risk factors,” she said. “It’s not the same disease at ten years old, 40 years old and 70 years old. If you are a young person with no underlying medical conditions and a previous COVID infection caused a stuffy nose for two days, you will not see a significant need for repeat vaccination.”
On the other side, For those over 65 With risk factors for severe disease, the need is even more pronounced, said Dr. Johnson.
Dr. Norman B. Gillis, MD, medical director of the Center for Immunotherapy at South Florida There are many reports and studies that indicate that people have not only lost interest in vaccination, but are also tired of hearing about new variants, boosters, and vaccine updates, said a longtime COVID expert.
“In my opinion, some people have lost confidence in being protected by vaccination for a number of reasons,” he told Fox News Digital.
“For example, they may have contracted COVID after vaccination, or they may have heard conflicting views and disagreements about adequate protection or negative side effects of vaccination.”
“Unfortunately, many people believe that COVID is no longer a serious health threat that they need to worry about,” Dr. Giles added.
Pollen stress varies by group
Medical University Vienna The study found that certain groups tend to show higher levels of fatigue than others.
The researchers reported that those who had never received a coronavirus vaccine answered that they would refuse the vaccine in almost all scenarios presented.
People who had received at least one or two doses of the vaccine seemed more likely to agree to get a booster shot if they were offered positive incentives.
Those who got three or more doses were the most open to going back for boosters — if they were available, easily accessible and recommended by experts.
Fighting COVID Vaccine Fatigue
For patients who are experiencing COVID fatigue and no longer believe they need vaccines, Dr. Giles recommends that healthcare professionals help them weigh the pros and cons before recommending a customized treatment or prevention plan.
“They should discuss the medical evidence in favor of vaccination for protection and immunity,” he said.
“Many people think that COVID is no longer a serious health threat that they need to worry about.”
The results of the Vienna study identified several ways to counteract pollen stress.
“We recommend offering adapted vaccines at different times of the year, while maintaining low access to vaccinations and ensuring that people take expert opinions into account in order to maintain high levels of immunization in the population in the future,” said lead researcher Tanya Stamm. Professor and Head of the Institute for Results Research at the Medical University of Vienna, in a discussion of the findings.
The study also suggests that communication campaigns are not as effective as they once were – and positive incentives can be used to persuade certain groups that may be resistant to more vaccines.
Mark Siegel, clinical professor of medicine at the University of Michigan NYU Langone Medical Center and a medical contributor to Fox News, they both agreed that vaccine fatigue will be an important factor going forward.
“I think the main strategies should be to focus on the cohort that is already boosted, to spread information about the waning effects of the vaccine, and to share recent studies that show that boosters reduce the impact of long-term COVID,” he told Fox News Digital.
In addition to offering incentives, Siegel also said he supports reducing the cost of obtaining vaccines and upgrading vaccines so that they are better suited to the latest types of vaccines.
“Vaccine mandates have not shown any clear effects on the likelihood of getting vaccinated.”
Dr Johnson said listening to people’s concerns is also key.
“Those who haven’t studied medicine in the last 20 years don’t treat the science of COVID the same way,” she told Fox News Digital. “We need to listen and understand their point of view and meet them there in our discussions.”
The study did not address natural antibodies
The one thing the Vienna vaccine stress study couldn’t address, Dr. Giles noted, was the presence of COVID antibodies in those who had been vaccinated or had the virus.
“Many of these individuals may have adequate levels of antibodies, and if they need them, they may not need additional vaccinations,” he said.
“This is a question that as a medical professional has treated more than 2,000 patients with COVID and long COVIDI can not answer.”
“I can tell that there are groups [of people] who should seriously consider getting vaccinations and boosters, such as people at high risk with diabetes, obesity and immunodeficiency.”