Undeniably, there is an increased demand for COVID-19 vaccines, but some people still hesitate to take the shot.

A paper published Thursday in the journal Science has mentioned that vaccine hesitancy could pose a major threat to public health efforts to end the pandemic, according to Medical Xpress.

Co-author of the paper Prof. David Broniatowski of the George Washington University Institute has pointed out that people are hesitant because of the recent events and controversy surrounding the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine clinical trial data.

For instance, the news of some people developing safety concerns after taking the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine has made people turn down the vaccine.

Vaccine hesitant people may have anxiety over these safety concerns. The paper also mentioned that some anti-vaxxers belong to a community that has mistrusted the medical establishment. And public health officials might not address their concerns.

The paper also noted that vaccine-hesitant people are often dismissed as anti-science. Such people can also be influenced by misinformation posted on social media or the internet by anti-vaxxers, the authors said.

Prof. Broniatowski said, “Vaccine hesitant people are targeted by anti-vaxxers and ridiculed by some health care providers. They are therefore doubly at risk.”

It is important to address vaccine hesitancy in order to boost public health efforts to end the pandemic.

Another co-author Prof. Heidi Larson of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine said, “Messages about vaccines must be delivered in a way that is empathetic to avoid stigmatizing people who have questions about the vaccine. Particularly in the context of COVID-19, with all its uncertainties, people need to be reassured, and feel that their concerns are heard.”

“And, if there is one thing we have learned in all our research, people’s concerns can change,” she added. “Listening needs to be ongoing.” The story was published Thursday on Medical Xpress.