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Patients on the Vaccine Fence? Threat Reduction May Help, says Syracuse Clinical Psychologist


Your COVID-19-vaccinated patients and the ones "on the fence" share a fear, but of different unknowns. Reduce the threat for the fence sitters, says Afton Kapuscincki, PhD.

People who are hesitant about vaccines and those who have accepted them have something in common, notes Afton Kapuscinski, PhD, and that "something" is their concern for their own safety and that of their loved ones. The difference between the 2 "populations," she observes, lies in what they're afraid of.

In an interview this week with Patient Care® Online, Dr Kapuscinski, director of the Psychological Services Center at Syracuse University and as assistant teaching professor of psychology, pointed out that what an individual views as most threatening about the COVID-19 pandemic environment at any point will shape decisions about their behavior, and that includes getting vaccinated.

Early in our conversation she pointed to the very recent shift in vaccine acceptance among those living in areas where the SARS-CoV2 Delta variant is prevalent and infections are surging. It would seem that for some, the threat level has changed, increasing the desire for protection. Dr Kapuscinski sees opportunity here for primary care. She believes they "... have an opening here, because many people, in fact, are on the fence." Their caution, Kapuscinski explains, should not be perceived as resistance but as a chance to meet them on the fence and reduce the perception of threat. She has more interesting thoughts, here.

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