More than half of Tennesseans hesitant to get any COVID vaccine

Apr 16, 2021 at 10:23 am by Michelle Willard

Bob Batcheller, who will be a volunteer at the MTSU School of Nursing’s site for Moderna COVID-19 vaccinations, receives his first dose from nursing student Taylor Shanklin Thursday, Feb. 25, inside the Cason-Kennedy Nursing Building. Batcheller is co-owner of Textbook Brokers on Greenland Drive. He will receive his second dose in three weeks. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

Over half of Tennesseans are "willing but hesitant to receive a COVID-19 vaccine," a recent study commissioned by the Tennessee Department of Health suggests.

On Thursday, April 15, the Tennessee Department of Health released results from a third party, statewide survey of more than 1,000 adult Tennesseans exploring sentiments around the COVID-19 vaccine.

“The results are consistent with national trends and show that Tennesseans want more information from trusted sources as they make their decision,” said Tennessee Health Department Commissioner Lisa Piercey, MD, MBA, FAAP. “This market survey was an important step in identifying where we can be helpful in providing information about safety and effectiveness.”

According to the survey, 53.7 percent of all respondents are willing but hesitant to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The main reasons given for vaccine hesitancy are safety and unknown long-term or short-term effects. But most respondents said that physicians and medical staff were the most trusted voice for Tennesseans seeking information for vaccines.

And only 25% believe that if enough people get vaccinated it will create herd immunity.

Interestingly, the survey found that Black and rural White Tennesseans are the most likely to be hesitant about getting vaccinated. According to other reports, Black communities are hesitant because of a history in the U.S. of racism in health care and dire experiments performed on Black people (see Tuskegee Experiment). As for rural whites, the most common response given was akin to “I'll get it in 5-10 years maybe. But I still wouldn't get it because COVID most likely wouldn't harm me any more than the flu anyway.” This response mirrors messaging from former President Donald Trump and is still found in conservative news outlets.

The study concluded on April 8, which was before administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was paused over concerns of blood clots. The full survey report can be found here. Following the market survey results, TDH will coordinate additional messaging to inform Tennesseans about the safety, efficacy and availability of COVID-19 vaccines.

Individuals seeking a COVID-19 vaccine appointment can visit or to find a local vaccine provider.

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