Attitudes and Opinions of Veterinary Professionals About Covid-19 Infection and Vaccination Against It | pp. 77-85 | PDF

Ilze Matīse-Van Houtana
University of Latvia, Matise Veterinary Pathology Service 

Abstract. Veterinarians are well trained to recognize and control infectious diseases and use vaccination as a routine procedure for preventing infectious diseases in animals. This role of veterinarians has become more emphasized since acceptance of concept “One world – one health” by health professions in medical and veterinary fields. It would be expected that veterinarians are well-prepared to form a scientifically based opinion on Covid-19 and on value of vaccination against it at individual and society level. The goal of this study was to determine whether and to what extent veterinary medical knowledge and experience influences beliefs, attitudes and actions towards Covid-19 and vaccination at individual and society levels. To address this goal, structured, anonymous interviews were conducted in March 2022 with volunteers representing veterinary professionals (n = 14). Results showed that veterinary professionals represented a divided community of people. While majority (almost 80%) of veterinary professionals voluntarily chose to be vaccinated and believed that Covid-19 is dangerous to their health and society as a whole, there were 2 respondents that believed in conspiracy theories, 2 that did not think that Covid-19 was substantial threat to them or society, and 3 that refused or were reluctant to get vaccinated. There was a direct correlation between believing in conspiracy theories and vaccine-hesitancy. Personal experience having severe illness caused by Covid-19 did not change beliefs. There was no direct correlation between support for animal vaccinations and support for vaccination against Covid-19. Overall, these results show that veterinary professionals in Latvia are not particularly different from Latvian society in general. Presence of supporters of conspiracy theories and vaccine-sceptics among veterinarians indicate that there are factors besides professional public health training and education (university degree and even PhD) that influence establishment of personal beliefs and attitudes.

Keywords: conspiracy theories, Covid-19, one-health, vaccine hesitancy, vaccination, veterinarians

In: Media and Society, 2022. Proceedings of Scientific Papers = Mediji un sabiedrība, 2022. Rakstu krājums. Riga, University of Latvia, 2023. 173 p.