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Why Don’t People Get Vaccinated?

Why Don’t People Get Vaccinated?

Image by Dodgerton Skillhause at MorgueFile.com.

Around 41% of Republicans in May, 2021 say they won't get vaccinated. But for their own reasons, minorities are about as resistant as Republicans. (The percentage is slowly shrinking as more is known about the virus and vaccine.)

For 13% it’s a definite, “No.” 13% of adults say they will 'definitely not' get the COVID-19 vaccine. Around 25% of people have physical reactions to needles, and in around 7% this is severe.

To have “herd immunity,” around 70% of Americans must be vaccinated or have had Covid-19. With one in five (80%) we will get there. Some worry we won’t. An NPR puts the figure at 25% don’t want vaccinated.

Skewing the figures is that 20% of the population are children under the age of 16, who can’t yet get the vaccine — so to offset that, more adults need to be vaccinated.

Why, why, why won't people take a life-saving vaccine?

Some believe that adverse, life-threatening reactions are underreported.

Some can’t sacrifice the time off work because they can’t afford to lose the pay, or they are so important that the risk of suffering and death is nothing in comparison (sarcasm).

Some in the medical community may be traumatized by having seen adverse reactions a few times to others vaccines. Or may feel by anecdotal evidence that flu vaccines are ineffective, so Covid vaccines might also be ineffective or cause severe adverse reactions.

Some may feel the worst is over, and they aren’t at risk, so why bother. This is despite that the new mutations are affecting more young people, and they are the ones being hospitalized.

Some maybe just don’t care. It’s common that many people don’t care about their health, or that of others. Some may think, “When their time has come there is nothing they can do, and in the meantime, God will protect them,” even though there is little evidence of this. It’s just kind of a way of avoiding personal responsibility.

They may be complacent about their health generally, require information that makes them more confident in vaccine safety, or find appointments inconvenient or difficult to attend.

Search engines and social media sites often take people to low quality information, or misinformation. FOX News is particularly bad about misinformation. Investigators found that on social media, QANON and a small group of influencers, were responsible for most of the misinformation.

“Forty-five percent of those who said they definitely would not get the vaccine feared side effects, and 40 percent said they wanted to wait to see if vaccines were safe.”

Some have a health condition that may make the vaccine unsafe.

Some believe that your body has to be exposed to disease to get immunity. (Not true – vaccines sensitize your body to disease without actually getting exposed to the disease, or risking suffering, organ damage, or death.)

Nearly 30% of those who won’t take it, don’t trust the government or the vaccine. Some think the vaccine is too new, so we don’t have enough experience with it yet. This group is shrinking. Additionally, some don’t trust science.

There is more acceptance of vaccines in cities, and less in sparsely populated States.

For some, it’s just finetuning the messaging to get them to take it. For example, they need to hear it from others in their community. Or they need facts they feel they can trust.

Other factors may contribute to how willing people are to accept risk.

Proximity plays a role in how seriously, immediate, and personally we take threats. If it’s something that seems far away from us, like in another country, or not in our community, we take the threat less seriously. If all our neighbors, have a disease, we take it very seriously.

Another factor is how risk-tolerant or risk-averse we are as individuals. Risk-aversion has been widely studied in economics (investment risk), and to some extent in other fields. For those who are risk-averse, there is unwillingness to take any risk.

In contrast, many people are actually risk-seeking. Young adults especially see themselves as invulnerable, so are willing to take greater risks, and even seek them out.

On this proximity and risk continuum that we all fall on, on the one hand if the disease is a far-off threat, you might see a risk-averse mother absolutely refuse to have her baby vaccinated for fear of risk of exposure to any disease or side effects. But if suddenly people close to her have the disease, the more proximal risk might drive her risk-averse fear to insist on having her baby protected.

Vaccine hesitance puts entire populations at risk. “Measles was declared eradicated in the United States in 2002. But in 2014, there were over 600 reported cases. Measles is a potentially deadly disease, and health experts explain that parents refusing to vaccinate their children are the cause behind its resurgence.”


Cidrap: 1 in 5 Americans say they won't get COVID-19 vaccine.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 13% of adults say they will 'definitely not' get the COVID-19 vaccine.

NPR. Why 41 percent of Republicans don’t plan to get the COVID vaccine.

NPR. Vaccine Refusal May Put Herd Immunity At Risk, Researchers Warn.

Meningitis. org. Why don’t some people get their life-saving vaccines?

Vox Recode. Who isn’t getting vaccinated, and why.

Healthline. Understanding Opposition to Vaccines

Caltech. Is Risk-Taking Behavior Contagious?

National Institutes of Health (NIH). From Risk-Seeking to Risk-Averse: The Development of Economic Risk Preference from Childhood to Adulthood.

- Dorian

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- Dorian

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