Israeli Researchers Examine Effects of Age and Economic Situation on Functioning and Getting Vaccinated During Pandemic

Although almost three million out of Israel’s total population of nine million have already received two doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine and nearly four million have gotten one shot, too many young adults have proven reluctant to get their vaccination. What most influences a person’s willingness to roll up his/her sleeve?

A study with the participation of doctors and researchers from the Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya and Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan near Tel Aviv have looked into this matter.  

Their study found that there is a close link between the willingness to get vaccinated against the corona and their employment situation. This is the first collaboration between Nahariya Hospital and the Faculty of Medicine of Bar-Ilan in the Galilee with the Gulf Medical University in the United Arab Emirates. 

A study, just published in in the journal Frontiers in Medicine, showed that the more vulnerable and fragile a person is – for example, whether he is out of work – the greater his willingness to get vaccinated and vice versa.

The study examined oral and maxillofacial surgeons and dentists who, whose livelihoods were harmed as a result of Israel’s three lockdowns and who work in the public health system. They were almost twice as ready to get vaccinated as those who were working and not in danger of losing their livelihood. The researchers concluded that economic incentives such as opening up the economy and allowing people who are protected by the vaccine to work and open their businesses may be the best way to encourage vaccination. 

The study was led by Dr. Asaf Zigron and Prof. Samer Srouji from the oral and maxillofacial medicine department at the Galilee Medical Center, together with Dr. Amiel Dror and Dr. Eyal Sela from the otolaryngology (ear-nose-and-throat) department and Prof. Hisham Mara’i of the university in the UAE; in fact, it was the first collaboration between the Israeli and the UAE universities since they signed a joint agreement. 

“The results are very clear,” said Dror, “and in my opinion, it will have an impact on the entire public. We are constantly looking for an incentive for getting vaccinated, and research clearly reveals that the greatest incentive for the individual is his ability to continue to sustain the economy. Dentists are not people who have no money; they usually have financial reserves and will not be hungry even when they don’t work for a while – but even for them, this finding was relevant. If so, what would an artist or a store owner with no job or savings so?”

Meanwhile, another new piece of research, this from nearby Safed Academic College and Ariel University, examined the factors influencing Israelis’ functioning during the pandemic. 

Dr. Ina Levy, a researcher and lecturer in the behavioral sciences department at college in collaboration with Dr. Keren Cohen-Louck of the university found that younger adults who are less prone to health damage as a result of the Coronavirus reported poorer personal functioning than the older citizens who are at risk of getting sick and even dying from the virus. 

Surprisingly, as one’s chronological age rises, so does personal functioning improve. The researchers conducted a random and representative survey of about 500 Israeli citizens. An analysis of the survey data found what the researchers called the “victim paradox” – a positive relationship between age and function. 

They explained that the mediating factors were the level of depression and the level of fear of the virus. Thus, young people who reported depression and fear of consequences of Corona performed more poorly than young people who did not report depression and were not afraid of the consequences. They examined several types of fears – of being infected, of a relative being infected, of dying from the virus, of a relative dying from the virus and of the negative economic consequences associated with the pandemic. 

The study found that fears associated with infection and death did not affect functioning. The only fear that was relevant to predicting functioning was the fear of the economic consequences of Corona, which was stronger among young people and weaker among older adults. The researchers said this was due to the fact that young people are less economically organized, and their economic future is shrouded in doubt as they were sent home due to closures.

“The Corona pandemic is not only detrimental to public health,” said Levy. “There are medical, economic, mental and social consequences. Historical studies on the effects of epidemics have shown that economic recovery after epidemics take a long time. Since this pandemic is not the first or last one that humanity will experience, it is important to assess it from a systemic and historical point of view.” 

Israel in the News