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WSU researcher surveys Covid vaccinations in couples

Man with face mask getting vaccinated, coronavirus, covid-19 and vaccination concept.
National Institutes of Health
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She found about five-in-six have partners with the same vaccination statuses.

A Washington State University researcher has found Covid vaccination status differs in about one-in-six intimate couples.

In other words, one partner is vaccinated and the other is not.

Karen Schmaling, a professor of psychology at WSU’s Vancouver campus, conducted a crowd sourcing survey with about 1,300 respondents. Sixty-three percent reported both partners are vaccinated. Twenty-one percent reported neither is vaccinated. The other 16% have one of each.

“The main reason [for the lack of vaccination] was concerns about vaccine safety,” she said. “But then there were some interesting areas where the vaccinated and unvaccinated responders to the survey had different perceptions for the reason one was unvaccinated.”

Some cited medical reasons. Others cited political reasons, such as beliefs that authorities are going too far in mandating vaccines. Others cited personal reasons related to the personalities of their partners, such as “he’s stubborn.”

“It could be, for example, even if their behavior looks like there’s a difference, their attitudes might not reflect that difference, meaning, for example, one person might have had to get vaccinated to keep their job, but they would have preferred not to. That would also be interesting to examine,” Schmaling said.

She’s now looking at a follow-up study to learn more about couples that do disagree on this fundamental question.

“What is the satisfaction in these relationships? Is this an anomaly? This is a topic in which they disagree. Maybe there’s broad agreements and happiness in a relationship or maybe this is not an anomaly,” she said.

The results were published recently in the journal Vaccine.

For Schmaling, it was a relatively quick study. She says she posted the survey on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk crowdsourcing site for only a few days and collected about 2,000 comments. Some she had to throw out because the respondents weren’t part of an intimate relationship.

She says the project took only two weeks from idea to completion, compared to months for studies conducted using other methods.

“This is not typically how I do research, so it was really fun to do,” she said. “Some of my colleagues, this is how they typically collect data and they tell me this is what happens, that there are many people out there who love doing online surveys, which is great for us.”

One of the Northwest's most seasoned reporters is returning to his SPR roots. Doug Nadvornick will be heard frequently on KPBX and KSFC reporting on local news.