A first-of-a-kind published study by three faculty members from Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine has gained worldwide attention by shedding light on how medical students view COVID-19 vaccines.

Faculty from OUWB publish first study about medical students’ views on COVID-19 vaccines
Stock image of vaccine

A first-of-a-kind published study by three faculty members from Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine has gained worldwide attention by shedding light on how medical students view COVID-19 vaccines.

COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among medical students” — recently published in the Journal of Public Health — also is likely to help improve vaccine-related education, said lead author Victoria Lucia, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Foundational Medical Studies.

The study was co-authored by Arati Kelekar, M.D., assistant professor, Department of Internal Medicine, and Nelia Afonso, M.D., assistant dean for Community Integration and Outreach, professor, Department of Foundational Medical Studies.

The team’s research found that while 98 percent of surveyed OUWB medical students agreed with the importance of developing a COVID-19 vaccine, only 53 percent said they would participate in a COVID-19 vaccine trial and 23 percent were unwilling to take a COVID-19 vaccine immediately upon FDA approval. About 170 students participated in the survey conducted last autumn.

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“The vast majority of this cohort had positive attitudes regarding immunizations in general and the importance of vaccines for themselves and patients, comparable to prior studies that have shown positive attitudes toward vaccinations among medical students,” the study concludes.

Further, the study indicates it “sheds light on vaccine hesitancy related to COVID-19 vaccine among medical students. It also demonstrates the need for an educational curriculum designed to enhance student knowledge about the COVID-19 vaccine and to teach vaccine counseling skills.”

Since OUWB’s beginning, the school has has taught medical students about vaccines, vaccine counseling, and vaccine hesitancy through various courses.

Findings from the study indicate an opportunity to improve education with regard to the COVID-19 vaccine and counseling, said Lucia, who added that various options are currently being explored.

Additionally, Lucia said the study published in the Journal of Public Health has led to subsequent research by the team with regard to dental students and how much they know about vaccines and how that compares with medical students.

In general, vaccines are often a hot button issue. The World Health Organization identified vaccine hesitancy as a top 10 global health threat in 2019.

Since COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among medical students was published, Lucia said representatives of medical schools from around the world have reached out to her for more information.

“I’ve had probably over a dozen emails request the survey from all over…Malaysia, Philippines, Iraq, Egypt, the U.K.,” said Lucia. “People want to replicate it in their own medical schools.”

“It tells us there’s a great deal of interest in terms of what we’ve done, but also in being able to compare based on different countries and cultures,” she added. “It will interesting to see how the data is different in countries that have different attitudes towards medicine and vaccines.”

For more information, contact Andrew Dietderich, marketing writer, OUWB, at adietderich@oakland.edu

To request an interview, visit the OUWB Communications & Marketing webpage.

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