'Mistrust in government and science' at the heart of 'vaccine hesitancy', suggests professor

13 September 2020, 11:00 | Updated: 13 September 2020, 12:20

By Seán Hickey

This health expert warned a general mistrust of scientific and political organisations is at the heart of skepticism towards a coronavirus vaccine.

Professor Kavita Vedhara is Professor of Health Psychology at the University of Nottingham and was speaking to Andrew Castle about "vaccine hesitancy" which has seen widespread skepticism for the safety of a potential Covid-19 vaccine.

"People are not uniform in their vaccine hesitancy" she began, noting that one of the main concerns of skeptics is "legitimate safety concerns."

Professor Vedhara assured people with concerns that the "Oxford trial is brilliant evidence that these vaccines are being developed by standard protocols, so the usual checks and balances are there."

"What this pandemic has done is that it's thrown up a huge amount of anxiety," she noted, telling Andrew that "we've got people who are genuinely concerned whether this vaccine is safe" and it is important to reassure these people.

The health expert believed this hesitancy is an impact of "a growing mistrust of government and politics, and science to some extent."

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Andrew wondered if "the rise in alternative medicines" contributed to a sense that we don't need a more traditional medicinal approach to the pandemic.

Professor Vedhara acknowledged this phenomenon, telling Andrew many people "may not necessarily be anti-vaxx, but anti-medication."

She went on to say that there is a group in society that may think there are "safer, more natural ways to deal with illness" than pharmaceutical medicine, which she refuted.

The Health Psychologist told Andrew that "we need to be very clear in explaining what's happening" if we are to curb vaccine hesitancy going forward.