Seeing Others Vaccinated May Be The Best Cure For Vaccine Hesitancy

A shorter version of this column has been published by Axios.

Knowing someone who has been vaccinated and seeing that the vaccine does not produce any significant adverse effects is emerging as the leading reason people are willing to get vaccinated themselves. It means that vaccine hesitancy will diminish naturally as more and more people are vaccinated, leaving smaller groups of the remaining vaccine hesitant to focus more resources on.

Less than ten percent of us have been vaccinated so far. But the share of us who know someone who has been vaccinated is much higher, at 41 percent in mid-January. That really matters because half (52%) of those who know someone else who has been vaccinated say they will get the vaccine “as soon as they can” compared to 37% of those who do not know someone who’s been vaccinated.

People also tell us they are closely watching those they know. When we ask people who they want to see get vaccinated before doing it themselves, their close friends and family members are at the top of the list.

As with everything COVID this varies by race and income. White adults (51%) are more likely than their Black and Latino counterparts (38% and 37%, respectively) to say they’ve either been vaccinated or know someone who has. And those with incomes of $90,000 or more are almost twice as likely as those with incomes below $40,000 to say they’ve been vaccinated or know someone who has (65% vs. 33%).

As vaccine hesitancy diminishes, efforts can focus most on the groups most likely to be persistently vaccine resistant, including in the Black community and rural America.

And messaging in ads can emphasize regular people everyone can relate to like they do to their friends and family, getting vaccinated without adverse consequences.

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