A survey in six Caribbean countries, including Saint Lucia, has found that individual choice and a lack of trust are the main factors fuelling COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in this country.
UNICEF and USAID commissioned Caribbean Development Research Services Inc (CADRES) to conduct the survey in Saint Lucia, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago in October and November 2021.
It explored the extent of, and reasons for, COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and whether anything can change the minds of those reluctant to take the vaccines.
The Saint Lucia portion of the survey involved face-to-face interaction with 800 participants, evenly spread across males and females and three age ranges.
According to the document, 54% said they were parents. The majority were employed, had a secondary-level education and 11% reported being unemployed because of COVID-19.
The respondents cited distrust due to the speed of vaccine development and uncertainty over long-term effects as reasons for early hesitancy.
But doing more research and speaking to a doctor emerged as the main factors that changed their minds.
When asked if their views on taking a vaccine changed over time, 62% of the unvaccinated said no, though 21% said they were now more inclined to get vaccinated.
But seventeen percent said they were less inclined to do so.
In addition, the survey disclosed that respondents relied mainly on social media and personal internet searches to inform their decision to remain unvaccinated.
The authors of the document recommended that communication strategies speak to critical concerns, target the demographic profile of the unvaccinated and hone the use of non-governmental personalities and influencers.
The survey also said vaccination tracking was necessary to determine if strategies worked.
So far, Saint Lucia has only achieved 27.7 full vaccine coverage among its population despite passionate appeals from Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre and other officials amid a fifth COVID-19 wave that has inundated the Island with an unprecedented sharp rise in cases of the virus.