Vaccine Hesitancy and Covid Denialism

Day 403: Stay Safe Minnesota

Recent study suggests that a set of deeply held beliefs is at the heart of many people’s resistance, complicating efforts to bring the coronavirus pandemic under control.

In The Atlantic, staff writer David A. Graham writes “It’s Not Vaccine Hesitancy. It’s COVID-19 Denialism. Reluctance to get vaccinated is concentrated among young conservatives, who are skeptical of the pandemic’s harms.”

Graham citing a sociological research from almost a decade ago, writes that almost two-thirds of Americans were hesitant to receive H1N1 swine-flu shots. “Older people were more willing to get the vaccine than younger ones, and white and Latino people (about 37 percent each) were more willing than Black people (25 percent). Democrats (39.6 percent) were more willing than Republicans (32.2 percent), but the spread was small.”

Citing from a recent Kaiser Family Foundation polling, Graham writes13 percent of Americans say they definitely won’t get a COVID-19 vaccine, but that includes 18 percent of people ages 30 to 49, and a whopping 29 percent of Republicans. Hesitancy is particularly high among people who live in rural areas and white evangelicals—for whom increased church attendance correlates with increased hesitancy, according to an another survey.”

In The New York Times, national correspondent Sabrina Tavernise writes that though vaccine skepticism was viewed as knowledge problem but it’s gut problem. “If patients were hesitant to get vaccinated, the thinking went, they simply needed more information.”

According to a new social science research, a set of deeply held beliefs is at the heart of many people’s resistance, complicating efforts to bring the coronavirus pandemic under control. A recent polling, about a third of American adults are still resisting vaccines, a bulk of that group were mostly Republicans.

The instinct from the medical community was, ‘If only we could educate them’. It was patronizing and, as it turns out, not true.

Dr. Saad Omer, director of the Yale Institute for Global Health (source: The New York Times)

Dr. Omer, who studies vaccine skepticism, and a team of scientists found that skeptics were much more likely than nonskeptics to have a highly developed sensitivity for libertythe rights of individuals — and to have less deference to those in positions of power.

“Skeptics were also twice as likely to care a lot about the ‘purity‘ of their bodies and their minds. They disapprove of things they consider disgusting, and the mind-set defies neat categorization: It could be religious — halal or kosher — or entirely secular, like people who care deeply about toxins in foods or in the environment,” writes Tavernise in the Times.

Jeff Huntsinger, a social psychologist at Loyola University Chicago who studies emotion and decision-making and collaborated with Dr. Omer’s team, told The New York Times “At the root are these moral intuitions — these gut feelings — and they are very strong. It’s very hard to override them with facts and information. You can’t reason with them in that way.

In the Times story, there is also profile of Brittany Richey, a tutor in Las Vegas, who don’t want to get “one of the vaccines because she does not trust the drug companies that produced them. She pointed to studies that she said described pharmaceutical companies paying doctors to suppress unfavorable trial results. She keeps a folder on her computer of them.”

“Ms. Richey is also worried about the ingredients of the vaccines. She is trying to get pregnant, and she knows that pregnant women were excluded from vaccine trials. She does not want to risk it.”

Coronavirus-19 vaccination watch

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID vaccination tracker page (as of May 3, 9 a.m.) 312,509,575 doses have been distributed and 246,780,203 doses administered. According MDH COVID-19 Response vaccine data (as of May 2) a total of 4,391,066 doses of Covid-19 (Pfizer & Moderna) vaccines have been administered in Minnesota. According to the MDH latest tally (as of May 4) the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota are 581,335 (out of 9,338,983 tested) with 7,174 deaths.