With COVID Vax in Works, 20% Don’t Believe in Shots

FRIDAY, Aug 28, 2020 (HealthDay News) – A new study finds that up to 20% of Americans don’t believe in vaccines.

According to researchers, ill-informed beliefs about vaccines drive opposition to public immunization policies even more than politics, education, religion or other factors.

The results are based on a survey of nearly 2,000 American adults in 2019, during the largest measles outbreak in 25 years.

Researchers, at the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) at the University of Pennsylvania, found that negative misconceptions about vaccinations:

  • reduced by 70% the likelihood of supporting compulsory vaccines for children,
  • reduces by 66% the probability of opposing religious exemptions,
  • reduces the likelihood of objecting to personal belief exemptions by 79%.

“There are real implications here for a COVID-19 vaccine,” lead author Dominik Stecula said in an APPC press release. He conducted the research at APPC and is now an assistant professor of political science at Colorado State University. “The negative vaccine beliefs we reviewed are not limited to measles, mumps and rubella only [MMR] vaccine, but are general attitudes about vaccination. “

Stecula called for an education campaign for public health professionals and journalists, among others, to preventively correct misinformation and prepare the public to accept a COVID-19 vaccine.

Overall, immunization policies have received strong support:

  • 72% strongly or rather support the compulsory vaccination of children,
  • 60% strongly or rather oppose religious exemptions,
  • 66% strongly or somewhat oppose vaccine exemptions on the basis of personal beliefs.

“On the one hand, these are large majorities: well over 50% of Americans support mandatory childhood immunizations and oppose religious and personal belief exemptions from immunization,” said co-author Ozan Kuru, a former researcher of the APPC, now an assistant professor in communication. at the National University of Singapore.

“Nonetheless, we need a stronger consensus in the public to strengthen attitudes and legislation in favor of vaccines and thereby achieve community immunity,” he added in the statement.

A previous study of the 2018-19 measles epidemic found that people who rely on social media were more likely to be misinformed about vaccines. And a more recent study found that people who got information from social media or conservative news outlets at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic were more likely to be misinformed about how to prevent infection and to hold conspiracy theories about it.

With the coronavirus pandemic still raging, the number of Americans who needed to be vaccinated to gain community-wide immunity is not known, the researchers said.

The results were recently published online in the American Journal of Public Health.

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Jothi Venkat

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