Oxford University conducted a comprehensive study of the COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in the UK. The results held some surprises. While the majority of the participants showed willingness to take the vaccine, a sizeable minority expressed concern. The results, published in the journal Psychological Medicine, indicated that 72% are willing to be vaccinated, 16% are very unsure, and 12% are strongly hesitant. However, amongst our frontline logistics team, which has worked throughout the pandemic in COVID-19 “Red Zone” Intensive Care Units, only 25% across the branches came forth to be vaccinated. We discerned a worrying pattern of distrust, which the survey confirmed.
Here’s Daniel Freeman, a Professor of Clinical Psychology, and founder of Oxford VR, writing,
“Vaccine scepticism, it would seem, is linked to a wider crisis of trust. Our data suggest that people who are vaccine hesitant are more likely to be mistrustful of doctors, are more likely to hold conspiracy beliefs, and to have little or no faith in institutions. They can also feel like they are of lower social status compared to others. What we see here is a combination of vulnerability and distrust of those in authority. That manifests itself in defensiveness. Unwilling to be experimented upon by people who don’t care about their well-being, they avoid vaccination.”
Mistrust was distributed across the population. Higher hesitancy occurred, however, among youths, women, those on lower income, and people of Black ethnicity. These correlations, it is important to note, do not imply a causal link. The same survey also indicated the solution:
“Our survey shows people want reassurance that safety hasn’t been sacrificed for speed. They want accurate and comprehensible guidance on effectiveness, potential risks, and how long protection will last. And they’re not scared of detail: messaging should provide us with the full picture.”
And that is exactly what Eleanor Hospital Logistics has been doing.
Earning Trust through Information and Discussion
Eleanor’s team, in partnership with the NHS, decided that it was time to combat misinformation and initiate conversation about the vaccine. The result was “Toolbox Talks”.
The idea was to create a platform where the team could meet experts in the field and directly pose their questions and voice their concerns. The first Toolbox Talk happened in Hammersmith. Ian Bateman, General Manager of the Imperial Medical Directorates Office, fielded questions and answered all the teams’ questions, concerns and fears with unflinching honesty. Right after the talk, three staff members came forward to be vaccinated.
The success of the first talk inspired us to arrange two more Toolbox Talk, one in St. Mary’s Hospital and the other in Charing Cross, both delivered by Lara Ritchie.
The results were astonishing. Just in the next two weeks, the uptake rate soared. Now, at least 75% of our staff have either registered to be vaccinated or have been already vaccinated, with more coming forward each day.
Eleanor Hospital Logistics would like to thank Lara Ritchie and Ian Bateman for the effort, time, willingness and patience to make these happen.