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'It didn't really stick with me': Understanding the rural shrug over COVID and vaccines

Sarah Jane Tribble, Kaiser Health News on

Published in News & Features

Factors such as age and occupation also play a role in attitudes toward the vaccines. And — as Findley and others in Fort Scott noted — rural Americans are more likely to think of getting a vaccine as a personal choice and believe the seriousness of COVID-19 is exaggerated in the news.

Findley said she believes that there is a very bad virus, but also that the media have brainwashed people. The news has “everybody running scared,” she said. “I don’t know why they want to do that, but that’s what I feel like.”

About 50% of rural residents say the seriousness of the coronavirus is generally exaggerated in the news, according to the KFF poll. And 62% see getting the vaccine as a personal choice — rather than a necessary social obligation.

Wesco, executive vice president of the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas, said he has hope more area residents will begin to see the vaccines as necessary.

“There’s hesitancy,” Wesco said, adding that he believes hesitancy is declining as vaccines become more abundant.

 

When residents are directly provided the opportunity to get a vaccine, they consider it more seriously, he said. And the more people they know who have gotten a vaccine, the more likely they will be to get a shot.

The Community Health Center, like other health centers nationwide, is receiving direct federal shipments of vaccines. Currently, the clinic has a waitlist and is giving out as many doses as it can get its hands on.

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(KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues. Together with Policy Analysis and Polling, KHN is one of the three major operating programs at KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is an endowed nonprofit organization providing information on health issues to the nation.)

(c)2021 Kaiser Health News Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC