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Distorted Risk-Perception

How can we better understanding common vaccine perceptions? Here, we explore the idea of 'risk distortion' as a root.
COVID-19 death toll screen.

People living in prison may view risk differently to many other people in the community. This means that they may see things as more or less dangerous, or threatening, than others would. Here are two examples of how this could related to vaccinations:

Low risk-perception

Speech bubble with the following text: ‘I have been through many hard things in my life. I will take the risk of getting infected with the disease rather than getting the vaccine, as I know that I will be fine and not get sick.’

This person does not think that diseases which can be prevented by vaccines pose any threat to them. As such, they would be rather get the disease and fight it off themselves rather than get the vaccine. Below are some effective ways to communicate the benefits of vaccination in response to this viewpoint.

Answer speech bubble with the following text: ‘Thanks to vaccines, some diseases which were previously very common are now quite rare. This means that day-to-day, we don’t see how dangerous these diseases can actually be. However, these diseases are still very serious if people are not protected through vaccination; for example, following a drop in MMR vaccination, deaths from measles significantly increased around 2018.’

Heightened risk-perception

Answer speech bubble with the following text: ‘‘Bad things always happen to me, I’ve been incredibly unlucky so far in my life. If there are side effects to a vaccine, I’m sure I will be one of the unlucky people to get them.’

This person believes that they will be the person to suffer from vaccine side effects, because they feel they have had a lot of bad luck throughout their life – which has eventually led to them living in prison.

Answer speech bubble with the following text: ‘‘Vaccines go through many tests before they are licensed to check they are safe. After they are licensed, they are monitored and their safety continues to be tested. This means that even if a vaccine has been in use for over twenty years, it is still being monitored for side effects.’

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Prison Health: Vaccinations for People Working and Living in Prisons (Vaccine Trained Staff)

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