1 in 5 AdventHealth patients surveyed believe COVID-19 myths — Here's the system's response

"Only older adults and people with preexisting conditions are at risk of infections and complications from COVID-19." 

"You can contract COVID-19 from the vaccine."

"The vaccines cannot be trusted."

At least 20 percent of patients who responded to a survey from Altamonte Springs, Fla.-based AdventHealth strongly agree or agree with these three statements.

The findings are from the health system's fifth patient survey on the pandemic and included responses from 932 patients across the system's five regions: Central Florida, West Florida, Kansas, Texas and states in the Southeast. Responses were fielded from March 5 through 15.

The 50-hospital system is using survey findings to inform its outreach strategy and to train physicians on how to respond to patients who believe myths about COVID-19 and related vaccines. 

To date, AdventHealth has provided a COVID-19 vaccine to more than 250,000 patients. While the majority of patients have been receptive to the vaccines, 23 percent of patients still don't think the vaccines can be trusted. Twenty-one percent of patients think they can get COVID-19 from the vaccine. 

Vincent Hsu, MD, an epidemiologist and AdventHealth's infection control officer, told Becker's that even though some patterns can be drawn between the myths, it's not a one-size-fits-all solution. For example, the survey results varied greatly depending on geographical region and over a period of time.

"Healthcare organizations need to get the pulse of the community. One thing we know is that even if a respondent says, 'No, I don't want to get [a vaccine],' things will change overtime," Dr. Hsu said. "We've seen, in some circles, hesitancy that was much greater than it was before the vaccines came out have now somewhat softened. It's important to get an understanding of what the pulse is of your patient population over time because attitudes change."

Not all patients are going to be receptive to just data when it comes to mythbusting, Dr. Hsu said. That's where other strategies come in.

"Sometimes telling a story, for example, is much more persuasive" than purely facts, Dr. Hsu said. Healthcare organizations may find more success working with a person a patient trusts, like clergy or a close family member, to address misbeliefs, Dr. Hsu said.

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