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      Lack of Trust, Conspiracy Beliefs, and Social Media Use Predict COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy

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          Abstract

          As COVID-19 vaccines are rolled out across the world, there are growing concerns about the roles that trust, belief in conspiracy theories, and spread of misinformation through social media play in impacting vaccine hesitancy. We use a nationally representative survey of 1476 adults in the UK between 12 and 18 December 2020, along with 5 focus groups conducted during the same period. Trust is a core predictor, with distrust in vaccines in general and mistrust in government raising vaccine hesitancy. Trust in health institutions and experts and perceived personal threat are vital, with focus groups revealing that COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy is driven by a misunderstanding of herd immunity as providing protection, fear of rapid vaccine development and side effects, and beliefs that the virus is man-made and used for population control. In particular, those who obtain information from relatively unregulated social media sources—such as YouTube—that have recommendations tailored by watch history, and who hold general conspiratorial beliefs, are less willing to be vaccinated. Since an increasing number of individuals use social media for gathering health information, interventions require action from governments, health officials, and social media companies. More attention needs to be devoted to helping people understand their own risks, unpacking complex concepts, and filling knowledge voids.

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          Most cited references38

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          Vaccine hesitancy: an overview.

          Despite being recognized as one of the most successful public health measures, vaccination is perceived as unsafe and unnecessary by a growing number of individuals. Lack of confidence in vaccines is now considered a threat to the success of vaccination programs. Vaccine hesitancy is believed to be responsible for decreasing vaccine coverage and an increasing risk of vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks and epidemics. This review provides an overview of the phenomenon of vaccine hesitancy. First, we will characterize vaccine hesitancy and suggest the possible causes of the apparent increase in vaccine hesitancy in the developed world. Then we will look at determinants of individual decision-making about vaccination.
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            Demographic science aids in understanding the spread and fatality rates of COVID-19

            Governments around the world must rapidly mobilize and make difficult policy decisions to mitigate the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Because deaths have been concentrated at older ages, we highlight the important role of demography, particularly, how the age structure of a population may help explain differences in fatality rates across countries and how transmission unfolds. We examine the role of age structure in deaths thus far in Italy and South Korea and illustrate how the pandemic could unfold in populations with similar population sizes but different age structures, showing a dramatically higher burden of mortality in countries with older versus younger populations. This powerful interaction of demography and current age-specific mortality for COVID-19 suggests that social distancing and other policies to slow transmission should consider the age composition of local and national contexts as well as intergenerational interactions. We also call for countries to provide case and fatality data disaggregated by age and sex to improve real-time targeted forecasting of hospitalization and critical care needs.
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              Measuring the impact of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation on vaccination intent in the UK and USA

              Widespread acceptance of a vaccine for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) will be the next major step in fighting the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, but achieving high uptake will be a challenge and may be impeded by online misinformation. To inform successful vaccination campaigns, we conducted a randomized controlled trial in the UK and the USA to quantify how exposure to online misinformation around COVID-19 vaccines affects intent to vaccinate to protect oneself or others. Here we show that in both countries-as of September 2020-fewer people would 'definitely' take a vaccine than is likely required for herd immunity, and that, relative to factual information, recent misinformation induced a decline in intent of 6.2 percentage points (95th percentile interval 3.9 to 8.5) in the UK and 6.4 percentage points (95th percentile interval 4.0 to 8.8) in the USA among those who stated that they would definitely accept a vaccine. We also find that some sociodemographic groups are differentially impacted by exposure to misinformation. Finally, we show that scientific-sounding misinformation is more strongly associated with declines in vaccination intent.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Role: Academic Editor
                Role: Academic Editor
                Journal
                Vaccines (Basel)
                Vaccines (Basel)
                vaccines
                Vaccines
                MDPI
                2076-393X
                03 June 2021
                June 2021
                : 9
                : 6
                Affiliations
                [1 ]School of Economic, Social and Political Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton SO17 1BJ, UK; w.j.jennings@ 123456soton.ac.uk (W.J.); g.stoker@ 123456soton.ac.uk (G.S.); h.j.b.willis@ 123456soton.ac.uk (H.B.); v.o.valgardsson@ 123456soton.ac.uk (V.O.V.); j.gaskell@ 123456soton.ac.uk (J.G.); l.a.mckay@ 123456soton.ac.uk (L.M.)
                [2 ]St. Hilda’s College, University of Oxford, Oxford OX4 1DY, UK; daniel.devine@ 123456st-hildas.ox.ac.uk
                [3 ]Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science & Nuffield College, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 1NF, UK
                Author notes
                Article
                vaccines-09-00593
                10.3390/vaccines9060593
                8226842
                67a84d52-93dd-40a0-b493-1722d60dd0db
                © 2021 by the authors.

                Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

                Categories
                Article

                covid-19,vaccination,trust,misinformation
                covid-19, vaccination, trust, misinformation

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