Ethical values ​​explain differences in COVID-19 vaccination rates across US counties > news > USC Dornsife

Research from the University of Southern California Dorncif shows that ethical values ​​predict regional differences in COVID-19 vaccination rates beyond structural, demographic, and political barriers to vaccination.

Vaccination rates vary widely in the United States, and a new study by UCSD researchers sheds light on the beliefs behind these later disparities. (Image source: iStock.)

Although COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective, and widely available in the United States, many Americans are still reluctant to get vaccinated. In fact, there are stark disparities in coronavirus vaccination rates across the United States: In some counties, nearly the entire population is vaccinated, while in other counties, only a minority of the population is vaccinated.

A new study by University of Southern California researchers sheds light on the beliefs behind these disparities in vaccination rates.

the study, Posted Wednesday in American psychologistfound that, beyond structural barriers, such as access to health care, and political barriers, we need to consider the moral values ​​of Americans to understand the stark disparities in COVID-19 vaccination rates.

Said Nils Karl Reimer, study co-author and postdoctoral researcher at USC Dornsife College of Arts, Arts and Sciences. “Moral values ​​help explain these differences, beyond known variables of political ideology and structural barriers.”

The most important factors that determine vaccination acceptance: fairness, loyalty, and purity

The study depends on Moral Foundations Theorywho argues that there are five basic moral foundations: care, fairness, loyalty, authority, and purity.

The researchers’ analysis found that ethical concerns about fairness, loyalty, and purity affected district-wide vaccination rates, but not care or authority.

“We found that some values ​​traditionally associated with conservatism were associated with lower vaccination rates, the largest of which was the desire for physical and spiritual purity,” Reimer said.

On the other hand, counties with higher loyalty were 1.14 times more likely to have higher rates of vaccination.

Giving a high fairness value was associated with a 2% increase in vaccination rates in similar settings.

Not vaccinating is associated with a higher rating for purity regardless of political party

While the study largely confirmed their hypotheses, the researchers said, some surprising trends emerged. The authors note that loyalty is typically associated with conservative values, which in turn are associated with skepticism about vaccines. However, the study found that loyalty correlates with higher vaccination rates – but only when controlling for the other four moral bases.

“The loyalty discovery is surprising because there is a lot of discourse about anti-vaccination among conservatives. However, what we show is that typical conservatives tend not to be anti-vaccination,” said co-author Morteza Dehghaniassociate professor at psychology and Computer Science at USC Dornsife. “Opponents of vaccination tend not to be highly loyal, but they are highly purified. Among these are disloyal conservatives, as well as liberals who tend to prioritize purity concerns, and likely focus on the physical aspects of purity contamination (“) My body is a temple and should not be polluted.”).

Reimer added, “It’s a sentiment you might find on both sides of the aisle, and I think that’s the great value of our approach because it provides a more nuanced analysis.”

Results can improve communication to improve vaccination rates

The findings provide policy makers and public health communicators with data with which to better reframe public health communications related to the epidemic. Researchers suggest appealing to fears of loyalty by framing vaccination as a patriotic duty. In areas of high purity, they suggest emphasizing the vaccine’s ability to protect against disease contamination.

“These things are, more importantly, just speculation before further trials are conducted, but our results may point to public health messages that can be tested,” Reimer said.

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