The misinformation and myths holding Americans from getting vaxxed
More than half of Americans (51%) are not sure whether or not to believe some of the false claims and misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines, according to a new survey from a coalition of university-based research from across the country.
In June, researchers from Rutgers, Northeastern, Harvard and Northwestern universities polled more than 20,000 Americans from all 50 states and Washington, D.C., with the COVID States Project. It asked Americans to mark four popular vaccine misinformation claims as either "true," "false," or "not sure."
Katherine Ognyanova,Rutgers' associate professor of communications and researcher on the project, said the false statements included that COVID vaccines will alter people's DNA, the vaccines contain microchips that could track people, the vaccines contain the lung tissue of aborted fetuses and the vaccines can cause infertility.
She said researchers found that 20% believed at least one popular vaccine misinformation statement.
"When we look at people's vaccine attitudes, we find this link between believing this misinformation and being resistant toward getting a COVID-19 vaccine," Ognyanova said. They also found a link between being uncertain about those claims and being vaccine resistant.
The most prevalent misperception in the data links the vaccines to infertility with 52% of respondents identifying this statement as false; 11% were concerned that vaccines can cause infertility; and 37% were unsure.
She said there is no scientific or medical evidence that the COVID vaccines or any vaccine, for that matter, cause infertility.
About 8% of respondents think the COVID vaccines contain microchips, 9% say vaccines use aborted fetal cells and 10% believe vaccines can alter human DNA.
Even when they looked at a link between misperceptions and vaccine resistance accounting for all kinds of other factors like demographics, socioeconomic status, and politics, there was still a strong link between believing misperceptions and refusing to get vaccinated.
The survey found people 25 to 44 years old, those with high socioeconomic status and Republicans are most likely to hold vaccine misperceptions. Women, African-Americans, young people and those with lower socioeconomic status reported uncertainty about whether the statements are true.