Studies detail which beliefs are fueling the US vaccine problem

A pair of studies from sociologists with West Virginia University dive into some of the biggest factors fueling US vaccine problems, including denial of their efficacy and skepticism over their safety. Not surprisingly, one of the studies found that factors driving skepticism related to the COVID-19 virus and pandemic are also linked to wider skepticism toward other aspects of science, including everything from evolution to climate change.

As far as general COVID-19 skepticism goes, one of the studies found that people who question the science behind the pandemic are also likely skeptical of science in general, though there's something a bit extra about the pandemic that exceeds that of other topics like climate change.

This, the researchers say, may be due to the heavy politicization of policies surrounding the pandemic, with politically conservative beliefs serving as a "fairly consistent predictor" for the skepticism. Younger people were found to be more likely than older adults to express skepticism about the pandemic, as well.

Interestingly, evolution skepticism was less broad and more isolated to people living in the southern United States. Science skepticism, in general, decreased with greater levels of education. Of particular prominence appears to be the issue of Christian nationalism, which is defined as distinct from the wider category of evangelical Protestants.

Christian nationalism, which includes things like beliefs that Americans are uniquely protected by god, was one of the biggest indicators linked to negative views about the COVID-19 vaccine and hesitancy about getting it. The researchers point out that this group is more likely to push back against public health measures in the name of personal freedom, including rejecting the vaccine.