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Your political ideology might determine whether you're vaccinated. So might your age.

Since the advent of vaccines for COVID-19, many have pointed to political ideology as an indicator for whether a person chooses to get vaccinated. However, new research from the University of Georgia suggests that in many cases, age might also be a factor.

“There's been a lot of attention to political ideology as a barrier to COVID-19 vaccination acceptance,” said Glen Nowak, corresponding author of the study and professor in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. “What we found in our survey was that's not so much true as people get older. Current CDC coverage data affirms this. People who are 65 and older are almost universally vaccinated, particularly as you start getting to 75 and older.”

Nowak, along with co-author Michael Cacciatore, an associate professor in the Grady College and co-director of the Center for Health and Risk Communications, surveyed more than 1,000 people to examine how demographic characteristics—such as age and sex, political ideology and news source preference—related to views on COVID-19 and vaccine intent.

Age is an important variable, the study found, but so is your political affiliation and where you get your news. Those two factors were the most consistent predictors of how an individual felt about their COVID-19 risk level and their vaccine intent.

According to the data, liberals saw the virus as a bigger threat than conservatives. Liberal-leaning respondents were also more likely to accept the vaccine and trust authority figures like the CDC and FDA.

Surprisingly, people who said they get their COVID-19 news from a variety of sources, both conservative and liberal, were more likely to be vaccine hesitant than those who stuck to partisan news sources.

“If you had asked us before we this study, we would have said pretty confidently that people who were looking at a wide array of information would be much more likely to be vaccinated and have much more confidence in the vaccine,” Nowak said. “What this suggested was the opposite in many instances. Many people who tried or said that they looked at a broad spectrum of information sources came away less confident and more uncertain about the vaccine and its value.”

Martin Matheny was promoted to Program Director and Content Strategist on July 1, 2022. He has served as the Executive Producer of our local news program 'Athens News Matters', and he covers local government for WUGA News. He started at WUGA in 2012 as a part-time classical music host and still hosts WUGA's longest-running local program 'Night Music' which is heard on Tuesdays and Wednesdays on WUGA at 10pm. 'Night Music' can also be heard statewide on the GPB Classical stream Mondays and Tuesdays at 8pm. As part of 'Athens News Matters' Martin works with student interns to help cultivate the next generation of Public Media rock stars! In his spare time Martin is an amateur book binder and freelance musician who frequently performs with Big Band Athens playing bass trombone. He lives in Normaltown with his wife, Shaye and dog, Murphy.
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