As the rollout of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines continue, so too does the effort to convince residents in New Jersey and the rest of the nation the vaccine is safe.

According to an ABC news/Ipsos poll released this week, 44% of the nation said they will wait a while to get vaccinated and 15% said they would never get it.

Kristin August, associate professor of psychology and director of the Health Sciences Center at Rutgers University–Camden, believes a lot of people are being scared by faulty beliefs from unreliable sources or personal experiences

August said many people are confused about what a vaccine is and how it works.

“People who get a vaccine, for example, and have negative side effects such as fever and body aches, they think that’s actually the virus itself that’s causing those symptoms when in fact it’s just their immune system doing its job,” she said. “People also fear vaccines because they just have a general mistrust and really a misunderstanding of science and how the scientific process works.”

She pointed out that while many people may still have reservations about the vaccine, that fact that President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President Mike Pence both got publicly vaccinated will help to convince people it’s safe.

“There’s research suggesting that when people see someone else modeling a behavior such as getting a vaccine and that person is in a person of authority and it’s someone they can relate to, they’re more likely to engage in that behavior,” she said. “Having people on both sides of the political spectrum getting the vaccine is really helpful but I think it would have been better if President Trump would have also gotten the vaccine.”

She said for the state to be able to approach vaccination rates of 70%, which is the target goal to reach herd immunity, “I think we’re just going to have to really try hard to come at this issue from multiple angles using public awareness campaigns, individual health care providers, pharmacists.”

She said a hardline approach may ultimately be needed.

“I think schools, for example, are going to have to have to take a stance," August said. "Are they going to allow students to come to school if they don’t get the vaccine?”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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