Faith-based Approaches Can Sway Many Americans to Accept COVID-19 Vaccine

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A recent study by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) and Interfaith Youth Core (IYC) found that faith-based approaches can help sway many hesitant Americans to accept the COVID-19 vaccine.

The study, conducted online from March 8 to 30, aimed to shed light why many Americans are hesitant to get inoculated and how faith communities can boost trust in the vaccine.

According to the report, “Faith-based approaches are influential among vaccine hesitant communities.” Twenty-six percent of vaccine-hesitant Americans and 8% of those who are resistant to getting the vaccine said they are willing to change their minds and get vaccinated because of a faith-based approach supporting the move.

There are six faith-based approaches in building vaccine confidence among the faithful. PRRI said these approaches are: A religious leader encouraging vaccine acceptance, a religious leader getting a vaccine, religious communities holding information forums, learning that a fellow religious community member received a vaccine, a nearby religious congregation serving as a vaccination site, and religious communities providing vaccine appointment assistance.

Religious engagement could be the key to herd immunity. —Eboo Patel, Interfaith Youth Core founder and president

“Religion is a critical but often overlooked factor both for understanding the complexities of vaccine hesitancy and for developing strategies for winning the battle to overcome COVID-19 and its future variants,” said PRRI founder and CEO Robert P. Jones.

Data from PRRI showed that Protestant Christians have higher rates of vaccine hesitancy and refusal, and the church must give extra effort in convincing them to get vaccinated. Church attendance plays a big role here. Nearly six in ten (57%) of black Protestants and 43% white evangelical Protestants who attend religious services at least a few times a year are vaccine accepters. Faith-based approaches can make a big impact in influencing more Christians to accept the Covid-19 vaccine while in church.

The study also strengthens the idea that religious leaders are great allies in spreading support for the government’s vaccination program. Among those who are doubtful of the vaccine, 70% of Black Protestants and 66% of white evangelical Protestants said they would ask a religious leader at least a little for information about the vaccine. Same goes for 53% of Hispanic Catholics, 43% of white Catholics, 36% of white mainline Protestants, and even 21% of religiously unaffiliated Americans who would reach out to a religious leader for vaccine information.

“Religious engagement could be the key to herd immunity,” said IFYC founder and president Eboo Patel. “A significant part of the American population is telling us that one or more religious messages can move them from vaccine hesitancy, and even outright refusal, to acceptance.”

Patel added that, “As we approach the long last mile, the strategy has to include ramping up collaborations between government officials, public health leaders, and trusted messengers within racially diverse religious communities working together to increase confidence in the vaccine and get shots in arms.”

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