For the majority of American citizens, the Covid-19 outbreak represented the worst public health emergency in their lifetimes. About 12 months after the start of the pandemic, effective vaccines were developed and made accessible, yet a sizable portion of American adults rejected or resisted immunization. In general, vaccine acceptance and uptake remains one of the most important public health concerns in many countries. Vaccine hesitancy—often fueled by misinformation surrounding the importance, safety, or effectiveness of the vaccine—poses a major barrier to achieving herd immunity. Understanding the elements that contribute to vaccine uptake, resistance, or reluctance is crucial. Since the tuberculosis pandemic of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, public policy debate in the United States had not focused on new issues about vaccination and communicable diseases until the Covid-19 pandemic. The political division of opinions about Covid-19 and Covid-19 immunizations is uncommon and calls for some explanation given the prior experience of Americans with infectious and fatal diseases. It’s critical to comprehend the reasons for acceptance and reluctance toward Covid-19 immunization given the significant changes that have occurred in the United States since the tuberculosis pandemic.
In a recent study published in The FASEB Journal, University of Michigan researchers, Professor Jon Miller, Professor Mark Ackerman, Assistant professor Belén Laspra, Assistant professor Carmelo Polino and PhD candidate Jordan Huffaker sought to understand the role of education, age, gender, race, education, partisanship, religious fundamentalism, biological literacy, and understanding of the coronavirus in predicting individual intention to take the Covid-19 vaccine. They did this by using a national address-based probability sample of American adults in 2020 and a structural equation model. Their analysis aimed to discover and measure the characteristics related to a positive desire to be immunized against Covid-19 and hesitancy toward or rejection of a Covid-19 vaccine using data from two national surveys of a probability sample of American adults.
The current model emphasizes the critical role that education, biological literacy, and knowledge of the coronavirus play in the formation of a pro-vaccination attitude. Their findings indicate that while many American adults have been affected by the politicization of the coronavirus pandemic, a sizable majority have sought out scientific information from print and digital sources and have been able to use their innate biological literacy and up-to-date coronavirus knowledge to agree to receive the coronavirus vaccine. On scientific topics like the Covid-19 epidemic, this model illustrates the structure of conservative republicanism and religious fanaticism. Additionally, their approach places the adoption of modern ideological partisanship after the formation of religious beliefs. This indicates that people are more likely to acquire religious views and ideals when they are still children, though the model also shows the impact of intervening life experiences. Researchers have identified a complex network of life course influences that can predict an individual’s intent to receive the Covid-19 vaccination by taking into account all relevant aspects over the course of a person’s life. Education and biological literacy are significant baseline factors that will only grow in importance in the coming decades. Their findings that a sizeable portion of American people appreciate expertise and consider it when making decisions about their own lives and public policies suggests that these initiatives have positively impacted American politics and society.
In conclusion, these findings show that significant and ongoing investment under biological and scientific education pays off in dire circumstances. The authors show that religious fundamentalism and conservative partisanship were substantial negative predictors of intent to vaccinate, while education, biological literacy, and knowledge of the coronavirus were strong positive predictors of willingness to vaccinate. The scientific community should find encouragement in these findings.
Miller JD, Ackerman MS, Laspra B, Polino C, Huffaker JS. Public attitude toward Covid‐19 vaccination: The influence of education, partisanship, biological literacy, and coronavirus understanding. The FASEB Journal. 2022 Jul;36(7):e22382.