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Why San Diegans are choosing to get the vaccine or not

A survey found that those who say they are not likely to get the vaccine don't plan to get the shot, no matter the facts.

SAN DIEGO — A recent survey of why San Diegans are choosing to be vaccinated or not is concerning health officials.

Almost 80% of San Diegans are partially vaccinated and many plan to get the second dose. 

San Diego County hired FM3 Research to conduct a vaccine confidence survey in June with 4,297 adult San Diegans oversampling in low vaccination areas.  

“We still have one in five San Diego adults who remain unvaccinated,” said David Metz, President of FM3 Research.

The county said the survey identified three focus areas:

  • County residents who received their first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine and are overdue for their second dose.
  • Residents who are hesitant about getting the vaccine because they feel they do not have enough trusted information.
  • San Diegans who are vaccine resistant.

Those hesitant fall into the health risks category, fear of long-term side effects and feel the COVID vaccine was developed too soon.

Many of the concerns are among women and a majority are white ethnicity. The data showed that more people of color plan to get the vaccine.

“The way of reaching people is with people they trust where it isn't a matter of factual information they are presenting but their own personal experiences,” said Metz.

Metz said those hesitant are more likely to listen to their family doctor, family or friend over a public health official.

“It's not so much what we say but who says it,” said Metz.

The county reports that most of the COVID cases including the recent spike in new COVID cases were among unvaccinated patients.

While that may sound alarming, the survey found that 55% of San Diegans not planning to get the vaccine are not concerned about getting COVID and facts won’t change their mind.

“It will take a much more sustained effort to get them to a place to feel comfortable,” said Metz.

The survey also found that county District 3 has the highest number of residents vaccinations but among its unvaccinated, it had the highest number of those who say they would least likely get vaccinated.

“It makes it more imperative all of us who have the ability to actually go out and do so because there are people in our community who don't have that option,” said Terra Lawson-Remer, District 3 San Diego County Board of Supervisors.

Researchers say family doctors, family and friends play a critical role in getting back to normal.

The county said the findings of the survey were shared with the medical community last week to better help physicians and providers address patient concerns surrounding vaccinations. The County is in the process of tailoring messaging, creating tools, and working with its partners to increase access to information in areas with low vaccination rates.

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