When vaccine acceptance emphasized, more people willing to get vaccinated, MIT study finds

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Vaccine hesitancy isn't caused only by personal fears about safety and efficacy, but from an inaccurate belief that a person's peers aren't getting vaccinated, according to a working paper from researchers at the MIT Sloan School of Management in Cambridge, Mass.

The working paper, "Surfacing Norms to Increase Vaccine Acceptance," studied how belief about a person's social circle affected their acceptance of vaccines, according to a Feb. 16 news release shared with Becker's Hospital Review. The researchers studied 300,000 people across 23 countries and found that accurate information about how others think about vaccines can increase a person's willingness to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Specifically, the fraction of people who were unsure about getting a vaccine was reduced by 5 percent when they were shown accurate information about vaccine acceptance.

"While public health officials and the media have been emphasizing the potential negative impact of vaccine hesitancy, our study found that emphasizing the overwhelming vaccine acceptance expressed by most people is a better way to get those who are unsure to accept COVID-19 vaccines," said Sinan Aral, PhD, a professor of IT and marketing at MIT.

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