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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

Sep 17, 2021 - 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.

28 U.S. citizens depart Afghanistan on Qatar Airways flight

Passengers board a Qatar Airways aircraft bound to Qatar at the airport in Kabul on September 10, 2021. Photo: Aamir Qureshi/AFP via Getty Images

The State Department on Saturday confirmed that a Qatar Airways charter flight left Kabul on Friday with 28 U.S. citizens and seven lawful permanent residents on board.

The big picture: Friday's flight is the third such airlift by Qatar Airways since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, AP reports.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Smaller than expected "Justice for J6" rally met with large police presence

Police officers watch as demonstrators gather for the "Justice for J6" rally in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 18, 2021. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

A few hundred demonstrators were met by a heavy law enforcement presence on Saturday at the "Justice for J6" rally outside the fenced-off U.S. Capitol, AP reports.

The latest: Four people were arrested at the rally, including one person with a gun, one with a knife and two with outstanding warrants, per the U.S. Capitol Police.