Religious people are more favourable to COVID-19 vaccination--- NCU study

KINGSTON, Jamaica- Religious people are more in favour of receiving COVID-19 vaccines compared to the non-religious Jamaican population, according to findings of a recent study conducted by Northern Caribbean University (NCU) researchers.

The study, which looked at COVID-19 vaccination status among religious and non-religious Jamaicans, found that nearly 75 per cent of unvaccinated people were from the non-religious population, while nearly 50 per cent of unvaccinated people identified as religious. 

Half of the 1,111 people sampled indicated that their religion was not against adherents receiving COVID-19 vaccines. Only a little over 11 per cent of the respondents said their religion objected to COVID-19 vaccinations, while 38.3 per cent were uncertain.

At the same time, the study showed that among the religious community, more than half were vaccine hesitant, tending towards the younger age groups: 18 to 26 years old accounted for 54 per cent, while ages 27 to 37 years old accounted for 51.2 per cent.

The study also indicated that almost a third of elderly religious respondents were anti-vaccination. Furthermore, among the faith community, Christians were the least resistant to receiving the vaccine, with 46 per cent. Other religious groups showed higher levels of hesitation: Judaism recorded 100 per cent, Hindi showed 88 per cent, Islam showed 86 per cent and Rastafari recorded 86 per cent. 

The NCU study suggests that religious Christians are the most likely to be vaccinated among the Jamaican population with females at a higher rate of vaccination. Reacting to this finding, lead researcher Paul Bourne suggested that the health authorities should factor the findings in their vaccination strategy.

“An opportunity exists for the Jamaican government to continue building trust among the population as vaccination initiatives continue across the island,” noted Bourne.

According to the study, despite the comparably favourable attitude among the religious community towards vaccination there is still a high level of vaccine hesitancy among the Jamaican population, which was recorded at 52 per cent. Young Jamaicans, ranging from age 18 to 26 years old are the most hesitant in taking the COVID-19 vaccines at 56 per cent; compared to 53.5 per cent of people aged 27 to 37 years old who are hesitant, and 51.2 per cent of people 38 to 48 years old. On the other hand, the elderly are the least COVID-19 vaccine hesitant. 

The study found that young people are more hesitant of the COVID-19 vaccines compared to older adults. Additionally, people who perceived the COVID-19 vaccine as harmful to one's health were less likely to be vaccinated, which provides a rationale for the behaviour of Jamaicans on resisting COVID-19 vaccination. 

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