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Misinformation about vaccine safety and uptake of COVID-19 vaccines among adults and 5–11-year-olds in the United States

Cover of Vaccine journal.Despite increasing rates of vaccination for COVID-19 in the US, hesitancy continues to be a barrier to the full immunization of the eligible population. Hesitancy appears to be particularly pronounced among adults deciding whether to recommend that children be vaccinated against COVID-19. In this research, we tested whether embrace of misinformation about the safety of vaccination is associated with hesitancy to vaccinate oneself and to recommend vaccination of a 5–11-year-old child for COVID-19. In a national probability panel created in April 2021, we assessed belief in both general vaccination misinformation and misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines, in particular. As hypothesized, belief in general vaccination misinformation predicted the uptake in reported vaccination among adults through September 2021, and likelihood to recommend COVID-19 vaccination of children aged 5–11 in January 2022, three months after the approval of that vaccine. In addition, misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines that arose over time correlated highly with more general vaccination misinformation. For both outcomes, general vaccine misinformation predicted vaccination hesitancy beyond concerns about the health risks of contracting COVID-19 for one’s family and children ages 5–11. The findings indicate that continued efforts are needed to bolster beliefs about the safety of authorized and approved vaccines of many types and not just those for COVID-19. Some strategies to achieve this objective are suggested.