Vaccine resistance rooted in ideology, new survey shows
|Press Release: The Media School
The Media School
Director of Communications
The Media School
For immediate release:
Aug. 16, 2021
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Ideology is a primary source of COVID-19 vaccine resistance among respondents to a new survey from Indiana University’s Observatory on Social Media about misinformation related to the vaccine. Demographic, political and media use patterns factored heavily into participants’ views on the safety of the vaccine and on their willingness to be vaccinated.
“Vaccine hesitancy has become vaccine resistance,” said James Shanahan of IU’s Media School, one of the authors of the survey.
The survey is the eighth in a series of studies from the Observatory. Data for the survey, collected in late July through early August, can be found here, and summaries of the previous studies can be found here.
In the latest survey, researchers continued to track two false narratives shown to respondents in the seventh survey: “The CDC is hiding negative effects of COVID vaccines” and “COVID vaccines cause infertility among women.”
Almost 43% of respondents thought it was either definitely or likely true that the CDC is hiding negative effects from COVID vaccines, and more than 21% thought vaccines may cause infertility.
Close to 10% of participants said they had tested positive for COVID, and about 66% said they were vaccinated or had an appointment to get their shots. Of those who were not vaccinated, about two-thirds said they had no intention of getting the vaccine. The majority of those vaccine-resistant survey participants — almost 87% — believed the CDC is hiding negative effects of the vaccine, and more than 50% believed it causes female infertility, compared with about 30% and 13%, respectively, among those who had been vaccinated or planned to be.
Survey participants who were resistant to the vaccine were more likely to be male, white, Republican and younger. They also were more likely to watch Fox News than CNN or MSNBC, and tended to favor YouTube over Twitter. Facebook use was similar between this group and those who had had the vaccine or planned to get it.
Asked to identify the “most important problem” facing the country, the vaccine-resistant group focused more on issues like immigration and the border and less on COVID.
“Vaccine rates are improving, but our survey identifies an ideological hard core of resistance,” said Shanahan. “It’s a problem of politics and storytelling.”
OSoMe is a joint project of the IU Network Science Institute (IUNI), the Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research (CNetS) at IU’s Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering and The Media School at Indiana University, with support from the Office of the Vice Provost for Research at IU Bloomington. It is funded in part by support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, a nonprofit focused on fostering informed and engaged communities.
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