Center for Dissemination & Implementation COVID-19

Study on vaccine preferences shows breaking down population by preference is important to meeting needs of the unvaccinated public

Written by Kim Furlow, communications manager for the Institute for Public Health 


Photo: Steven Cornfield

We know that the U.S. has been successful in vaccinating those who want the shot however, as we continue to hear about vaccine hesitancy or outright opposition, WashU dissemination and implementation researchers have conducted a study to get to the root of public preference.

The study, entitled, “Preferences for COVID-19 vaccine distribution strategies in the US: A discrete choice survey”, led by Institute Faculty Scholar, Ingrid Eshun-Wilson, looked into vaccine distribution strategies among more than 2,800 people. Researchers surveyed public relative preferences for: number of vaccine doses, booster vaccinations, vaccine access methods; wait times at vaccination sites and vaccine mandates.

“There is no silver bullet for improving vaccine uptake. Preferences vary substantially; therefore, easy access to a choice of vaccines and vaccination services is critical. Even mandates, which have the potential to increase vaccination rates in those who are deliberative and susceptible, can cause others to become more resistant. As seen in our study: the most hesitant indicated that they would be even less likely to vaccinate under mandates.”

Ingrid Eshun-Wilson

Ultimately, the study concluded:

  • Breaking down segments of the population based on their preferences is essential to ensuring that vaccination services meet the needs of diverse populations.
  • Simplifying services, improving access and offering the public choices increases the likelihood that reticent people will get the vaccine.
  • Vaccine mandates have the potential to increase vaccination rates among those who accept the idea, but may simultaneously create additional resistance in those who are already hesitant.

In addition to Eshun-Wilson and other contributors, the study includes work by Institute Faculty Scholar, Aaloke Mody, and two center directors, Elvin Geng (Center for Dissemination & Implementation) and Vetta Thompson (Center for Community Health Partnership & Research). The team’s article on the study was recently published in the medical journal, PLOS ONE.