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Lack of trust and social media echo chambers predict COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy

Lack of trust and social media echo chambers predict COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy
Lack of trust and social media echo chambers predict COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy
As COVID-19 vaccines are rolled out across the world, there are growing concerns about the role that trust, belief in conspiracy theories and spread of misinformation through social media impact vaccine hesitancy. We use a nationally representative survey of 1,476 adults in the UK between December 12 to 18, 2020 and five focus groups conducted in 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, belief the virus is man- made and related to population control. Particularly those who obtain information from relatively unregulated social media sources such as YouTube that have recommendations tailored by watch history are less likely to be willing to become vaccinated. Those 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 help people understand their own risks, unpack complex concepts and fill knowledge voids.
Jennings, Will
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Stoker, Gerry
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Willis, Hannah
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Valgardsson, Viktor
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Gaskell, Jen
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Devine, Daniel
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McKay, Lawrence
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Mills, Melinda C.
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Jennings, Will
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Stoker, Gerry
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Willis, Hannah
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Valgardsson, Viktor
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Gaskell, Jen
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Devine, Daniel
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McKay, Lawrence
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Mills, Melinda C.
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Jennings, Will, Stoker, Gerry, Willis, Hannah, Valgardsson, Viktor, Gaskell, Jen, Devine, Daniel, McKay, Lawrence and Mills, Melinda C. (2021) Lack of trust and social media echo chambers predict COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy. medRxiv. (doi:10.1101/2021.01.26.21250246).

Record type: Article

Abstract

As COVID-19 vaccines are rolled out across the world, there are growing concerns about the role that trust, belief in conspiracy theories and spread of misinformation through social media impact vaccine hesitancy. We use a nationally representative survey of 1,476 adults in the UK between December 12 to 18, 2020 and five focus groups conducted in 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, belief the virus is man- made and related to population control. Particularly those who obtain information from relatively unregulated social media sources such as YouTube that have recommendations tailored by watch history are less likely to be willing to become vaccinated. Those 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 help people understand their own risks, unpack complex concepts and fill knowledge voids.

Text
2021.01.26.21250246v1.full - Version of Record
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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 27 January 2021
e-pub ahead of print date: 27 January 2021

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 468785
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/468785
PURE UUID: f61e26af-f9dd-47a5-90ee-6e7d61cf3374
ORCID for Will Jennings: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-9007-8896
ORCID for Gerry Stoker: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-8172-3395
ORCID for Jen Gaskell: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-1702-6234
ORCID for Lawrence McKay: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-2071-3943

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 25 Aug 2022 17:17
Last modified: 26 Aug 2022 02:00

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Contributors

Author: Will Jennings ORCID iD
Author: Gerry Stoker ORCID iD
Author: Hannah Willis
Author: Viktor Valgardsson
Author: Jen Gaskell ORCID iD
Author: Daniel Devine
Author: Lawrence McKay ORCID iD
Author: Melinda C. Mills

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