To vaccinate or not to vaccinate - that is the question. Apologies to Shakespeare, but a new study from the UM's College of Health will be asking that question as they study both sides of the COVID-19 vaccination issue.

The CDC says about 53 percent of Montanans have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine, as of this week. Sophia Newcomer, assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Montana will lead the year-long study into the factors causing either confidence on one hand, or hesitancy on the other, of getting jabbed in the arm with a COVID-19 vaccine. The $280,000 study is a being funded by the National Institutes of Health and will combine work from Missoula's All Nation's Health Center, the UM School of Social Work and UM students.

Newcomer said in a news release, "Compared to urban areas, there's been very little research about vaccine uptake in rural and indigenous populations. We're hoping to learn more about influencing factors when it comes to the vaccine, so that we can help Montana health care providers increase vaccine confidence with their patients."

A study by UM social work faculty and students will get the perspective of rural and indigenous Montanans. A statewide survey of Montana primary health care providers will gather information about their experiences with patients in the clinics. UM public health students at the School of Public and Community Health Sciences will analyze the data.

Skye McGinty, executive director of All Nations Health Center, said, "Data is people. And we have to meet them where they are. If we can find out if the challenges of vaccine hesitancy are "messaging" or "community trust," then that's a potential game changer when it comes to our best defense at slowing the spread and overwhelming our schools, health care personnel and facilities." More information is at the UM news release from the UM College of Health.

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