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Expand chart
Reproduced from Annenberg Public Policy Center; Chart: Axios visuals

People who rely on conservative media have much less confidence in key public health institutions and experts, and are much more likely to believe misinformation about the vaccine, according to a new study from the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

Why it matters: The survey finds a widening gap between Americans who trust key health institutions and those who don't.

The big picture: Trust in key institutions, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and, Food and Drug Administration are still high overall. So is overall trust in Anthony Fauci, and overall confidence in the vaccines.

Details: The survey found that in June, 78% of the U.S. public said the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, up from 74% in April.

  • But the more ideologically conservative that people described themselves as, "the less likely they are to believe that it is true that it is safer to get the Covid-19 vaccine" the study found.

"When you begin to reduce trust in experts and agencies telling you that vaccines are safe, you're creating all kinds of susceptibilities that can be exploited for partisan gain," said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center.

Be smart: The survey also found that a growing number of Americans are becoming susceptible to conspiracy theories about the vaccine.

  • More than a third of Americans (35%) in June said they definitely believe that coronavirus was created by the Chinese government as a biological weapon, up from 31% in April. There is no evidence to support that theory.
  • "In the presence of statistical controls, those who say they rely on conservative media such as Fox News or very conservative media such as OAN are more likely to believe this conspiracy theory. Those who say they rely on mainstream media are more likely to reject this theory," the report found.

The bottom line: Experts say misinformation is one of many factors that can lead to vaccine hesitancy, along with a person's political affiliation, assessment of their own risk, access to vaccines and socioeconomic status.

  • The new study finds that some of these factors, like a person's political affiliation and their exposure to misinformation, may be linked.
  • "We know that ongoing exposure to a message that is consistent can harden existing dispositions," Jamieson said.

Go deeper

23 hours ago - Health

CDC: Moderna vaccine most effective against hospitalization in U.S.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Overall healthy adults with the Moderna COVID vaccine had 93% vaccine effectiveness against hospitalization over five months compared to those with 88% protection with Pfizer and 71% from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, a new report out Friday from the CDC shows.

Why it matters: The report comes as the Food and Drug Administrations meets Friday to consider whether to endorse a contentious plan for booster shots among the fully vaccinated.

1 hour ago - World

Pope Francis urges bishops to listen to survivors of sexual abuse

Pope Francis rides his Pope mobile through a crowd of pilgrims before holding an open-air mass on September 15, 2021 in Sastin, Slovakia. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Pope Francis on Saturday urged European bishops to listen to survivors of clergy sexual abuse, saying "these important discussions truly touch the future of the church," AP reports.

Driving the news: Francis spoke in a video message to Central and Eastern European bishops who are convening in Poland for a four-day child protection conference beginning on Sunday.

Students vandalize and steal from schools for viral TikTok challenge

TikTok logo displayed on a phone screen in Krakow, Poland on July 18, 2021. Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A viral TikTok challenge is leading students nationwide to shatter mirrors, steal fire alarms and intentionally clog toilets, The Washington Post reports.

Driving the news: Dubbed the the “Devious Licks challenge, students are showing off their "devious licks" on TikTok — with a sped-up version of "Ski Ski BasedGod" by rapper Lil’ B playing in the background.