Feb 15, 2022 - Health

Many Americans knowingly disagree with scientists about COVID vaccines

Perceptions of false COVID-19 vaccine statements
Data: The COVID States Project; Chart: Sara Wise and Baidi Wang/Axios

A third of Americans who believe coronavirus vaccine misinformation are aware that they're in disagreement with scientists and medical experts, according to a new survey by The COVID States Project.

Why it matters: This suggests that educating people on the science behind vaccines won't be sufficient to change many minds.

By the numbers: The survey found that 16% of Americans believe inaccurate information about the vaccines, and nearly half say they're unsure whether at least one vaccine misinformation statement is true.

  • As of January, around 5% of survey respondents said they believe the COVID vaccines contain microchips, 7% said they use aborted fetal cells, 8% think that they can alter human DNA, and 10% said the vaccines can cause infertility.
  • 46% said they were unsure whether at least one of these claims was true. All have been debunked.

Between the lines: Distrust of scientists isn't only held among those who say they believe one of these four myths.

  • One in five Americans says that even though they know scientists believe a particular vaccine claim is false, they're unsure about whether to believe it.

The intrigue: There has been a shift in who is most likely to believe vaccine misinformation since last year.

  • Democrats, people with graduate degrees, and those with annual incomes above $100,000 were the social groups in which belief in vaccine misinformation dropped the most.
  • But rates of misinformation belief have been much more stubborn among people who didn't go to college, people with incomes under $25,000, Hispanics and Republicans.

The bottom line: Vaccine misinformation is a key obstacle to higher vaccination rates, and there's a strong correlation between belief in vaccine misinformation and vaccine resistance.

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