NEW YORK — Are a few words from your doctor better than any lottery ticket when it comes to COVID-19? A new study finds vaccine incentives are less likely to convince Americans to get the COVID-19 vaccine than a visit to their primary care physician.
A recent survey of 2,005 respondents reveals that 88 percent who went to a primary care physician before getting the vaccine (1,202 respondents) consider their doctor’s advice to be an instrumental factor in their decision. In fact, nearly nine in 10 say they trust their primary care physician’s advice either completely or most of the time.
New doctor, new trust issues
Conducted by OnePoll and commissioned by the Henry Schein Cares Foundation, the survey also reveals that it takes the average patient two years and nine months to establish a meaningful level of trust with a new primary care physician.
Trust in pediatric medical professionals runs high too, with 94 percent of parents saying they trust the advice of their child’s physician either completely or most of the time. Another 92 percent say the same about their child’s primary care dentist.
Besides doctors, about half of respondents consider the CDC (49%) to be their primary source of COVID-19 information, with state health agencies and officials (47%) and their own family members (33%) following closely behind.
“The simplest way to convince people to get the vaccine is by getting a trusted medical professional involved,” says Dr. Louis Sullivan, former head of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and current Co-Chair of the Henry Schein Cares Foundation’s board of directors, in a statement. “The data from this survey ties in with what we’ve found, which is that an individual’s strong relationship with their primary care physician is essential for getting the right medical information and taking action to protect their health.”
Speaking of families, just over 62 percent of parents with children in the eligible age groups say they’re taking their kids to get the COVID-19 vaccine. In fact, 76 percent of parents (1,233 respondents) add they were concerned about their child contracting the virus upon their return to in-person learning.
When it comes to respondents who haven’t received the COVID-19 vaccine yet, just 31 percent say a guaranteed incentive would convince them to get the shot. On the other hand, 36 percent would change their minds if their physician encouraged them to get it.
One in three unvaccinated people would change their minds about the COVID vaccine if their own primary care physician was the one administering the shot in their office. The most popular incentive, not surprisingly, is cash, with 60 percent saying it would be their preferred benefit. However, 74 percent also believe that the cash amount would have to be $50 or more.
Other popular vaccine incentives include meal or drink vouchers (21%), a free meal (20%), and retail vouchers (19%).
“Incentives might work in certain instances, but it’s clear that Americans are more likely to take the advice of their doctor than be swayed by free offers or monetary rewards,” Dr. Sullivan says. “That’s why we encourage all patients to ensure they have a physician or dentist they can trust, and who they can go to for medical advice. It’s the quickest and easiest way to avoid misinformation, and to stay informed about major health matters.”