Covid-19 vax hesitancy linked to childhood trauma: Study

Reluctance or refusal to get jabbed against Covid-19 infection (vaccine hesitancy), may be linked to traumatic events in childhood, such as neglect, domestic violence or substance misuse in the family home, suggests a research.

The study, published in the open access journal BMJ Open, showed that vaccine hesitancy was three times higher among people who had experienced four or more types of trauma as a child than it was among those who hadn’t experienced any.

While “this is an observational study, and as such, can’t establish cause,” said researchers from Bangor University in the UK.

But they pointed out that people who have experienced childhood trauma are “known to have greater health risks across the life-course”.

Results here suggest such individuals may have more difficulty with compliance with public health control measures and consequently require additional support.

The researchers drew on 2,285 responses to a nationally representative telephone survey of adults living in Wales between December 2020 and March 2021.

The survey asked about nine types of childhood trauma before the age of 18: physical, verbal, and sexual abuse; parental separation; exposure to domestic violence; and living with a household member with mental illness, alcohol and/or drug misuse, or who was in prison.

It collected personal details and experiences of long term health conditions, levels of trust in health service information on Covid, and attitudes towards Covid restrictions and vaccination.

Around half (52 per cent) of the respondents said that they had not experienced any childhood trauma. But around 1 in 5 said they had experienced 1 type; around 1 in 6 (17 per cent) reported 2-3; and 1 in 10 (10 per cent) reported 4 or more.

Respondents who expressed little or no trust in NHS Covid-19 information and who felt government restrictions were very unfair were more likely to favour the immediate ending of regulations on social distancing and mandatory face coverings.

And they were more likely to say they had flouted the regulations occasionally and to profess reluctance or refusal to get jabbed.

For example, four out of 10 of those reporting low levels of trust in NHS Covid-19 information also reported vaccine hesitancy, compared with just 6 per cent of those who did trust this source of information.

This is important not only for the current pandemic but for other public health emergencies arising in the future, the researchers suggest.

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