Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor, Omar Ottley met with research representatives contacted by the RIVM and VWS of the Netherlands, to discuss the findings of a randomized survey done to better understand the vaccine hesitancy amongst the Sint Maarten population.
The Minister was eager to learn about the factors associated with COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy.
The team of researchers stated that they thought it was critical for the Ministry of VSA to continue developing tailored strategies to increase acceptability of the COVID-19 vaccine and decrease hesitancy. Hence, a study was done to assess and identify the factors associated with COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in Sint Maarten.
The research team mentioned that they uncovered several factors associated with both refusal and delay of taking the vaccine, some of these factors are: the belief that COVID is not real, the belief that the vaccine is not effective, circulation of false information on many social media platforms, no intention of taking the COVID-19 vaccine, low confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine, possible health complications post vaccination, worse perception of Government measures, perception of the
information provided as inconsistent and contradictory, the vaccine being free of cost when nothing else in life is free, belief that the vaccine is a bio-chemical weapon, their belief that God will protect them better than any vaccine, the wish for one on one information from the VMT, doctorsadvice not to take the vaccine and not having access to the vaccine earlier in the pandemic when they were willing to take it.
The Research team also indicated that persons are not interested in receiving any vaccine related information and therefore do not want to take the vaccine. They gave the Minister some tips on ways that Sint Maarten may be able to convince persons to take the vaccine to protect themselves and others. Minister Ottley informed the RIVMs research representatives that it has always been his main objective to build confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine, as its perceived safety and efficacy are strongly associated with intention and willingness to take the vaccine. Ottley stated that he understands the Sint Maarten culture, so he understands some of the factors tied to their hesitancy. He stated that Government and the related health authorities will continue working on improving the communication with this specific target population and increase trust, which he hopes will lead to these persons deciding to take the vaccine.