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How to best handle vaccine decliners: scientific facts and psychological approach
  1. Gabor Zoltan Xantus1,
  2. Derek Burke2,
  3. Peter Kanizsai3
  1. 1 Alumni, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK
  2. 2 Research Department, University of Gibraltar – Europa Point Campus, Gibraltar, Gibraltar
  3. 3 Emergency Department, Pecsi Tudomanyegyetem, Pecs, Hungary
  1. Correspondence to Dr Gabor Zoltan Xantus, Alumni, Cardiff University, Cardiff CF10 3AT, UK; gabor.xantus{at}


There is currently no curative drug therapy for COVID-19. The spread of the virus seems relentless despite the unprecedented epidemiological measures. Prevention remains the only feasible option to stop the pandemic; without population-level vaccination, we are unlikely to regain the quality of social life and the unrestricted economy/commerce we enjoyed before. Anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists are seemingly oblivious to the detrimental effect of COVID-19 both at an individual and societal level. These groups have (and probably will) continue to attempt to undermine efforts to eradicate the virus despite the fact that the major reduction in morbidity/and mortality of infectious diseases of the past century was achieved through the development of vaccines and improved hygiene. Conspiracy theories are directly associated with reduced vaccine uptake and unfortunately neither anti-vaxxers nor vaccine hesitants cannot be persuaded (debunked) with logical arguments; hence, prescribers must not only be aware of the truth underlying the dense web of misinformation but must fully understand the psychological aspects as well to be able to efficiently counsel about the potential benefits and harms. Such knowledge is pivotal to help the lay public to make informed decisions about SARS CoV-2 in general and vaccination in particular; as the COVID-19 situation can probably be best controlled with mass inoculation and novel immune therapies. The lessons learnt regarding the importance of efficient communication and the adherence to the proven epidemiological measures hopefully would be leaving us better prepared for the future if challenged by novel communicable diseases of pandemic potential.

  • COVID-19
  • epidemiology
  • therapeutics

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  • Contributors GZX incepted the idea and drafted the first version. DB proof read and edited the manuscript. PK approved and edited the final version.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.