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Disease Deadliness And Willingness To Vaccinate Linked, Study Shows

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Richard Villalon
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Adobe Stock

A newly published study out of the University of Idaho suggests that the higher perceived risk of a disease, the more likely someone is to vaccinate.

The researchers surveyed about 2,400 people back in 2018, and the analysis of those answers shows that perceived deadliness played a big role in vaccination decisions.

Participants were randomly given different hypothetical disease scenarios, and, as a news release explains, "vaccination willingness was greater for participants who were given information about the potential deadliness of a disease, versus those told how severely it could impact daily life."

It also found that certain demographics – like those with higher incomes, older people and men – were also more willing to vaccinate.

University of Idaho philosophy professor Bert Baumgaertner, who co-authored the study, said another factor was at play, too – politics.

“Especially the very liberals and the very conservatives, they actually behave quite similarly in terms of how their ideology seems to be influencing their decisions,” Baumgaertner said.

Essentially, they both stuck to their guns regardless of the risk, with conservatives less willing to vaccinate and liberals more willing.

There are caveats, though: This survey didn’t measure for changes in confidence around a vaccine’s safety. It was also done with hypothetical diseases, not the one everyone is focused on right now: COVID-19.

Still, according to the study, "This information can be helpful for campaigns that aim to reduce vaccine hesitancy and is useful for modeling feedback between human decision-making and the spread of disease."

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.