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State policies increase vaccination by shaping social norms

Scientific Reports cover.Abstract

In a survey and four preregistered experiments, we examined if implementing a vaccine-promoting policy is likely to encourage vaccination by shaping the norms of a society. By combining state-level policy data with a longitudinal survey, we found that vaccine-supportive policies and laws are associated with more positive social norms. To establish a causal effect, we conducted four preregistered experiments to gauge the impact of policies, including the government recommendation for children to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and changes in funding for immunization programs. We find that vaccine-supportive policies strengthen the intention to receive an additional recommended COVID-19 booster shot and the intention to vaccinate children against COVID-19. We also find that these effects are mediated by the promotion of social norms supportive of vaccination. In this context, communicating about laws and policies in favor of vaccination may create a culture of vaccination and increase vaccination coverage.