COVID-19 and Vaccine Hesitancy: A Longitudinal Study

26 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2020 Last revised: 3 Feb 2021

See all articles by Ariel Fridman

Ariel Fridman

ESADE Business School

Rachel Gershon

University of California, Berkeley

Ayelet Gneezy

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Rady School of Management

Date Written: July 7, 2020


How do attitudes toward vaccination change over the course of a public health crisis? We report results from a longitudinal survey of United States residents during six months (March 16 – August 16, 2020) of the COVID-19 pandemic. Contrary to past research suggesting that the increased salience of a disease threat should improve attitudes toward vaccines, we observe a decrease in intentions of getting a COVID-19 vaccine when one becomes available. We further find a decline in general vaccine attitudes and intentions of getting the influenza vaccine. Analyses of heterogeneity indicate that this decline is driven by participants who identify as Republicans, who showed a negative trend in vaccine attitudes and intentions, whereas Democrats remained largely stable. Consistent with research on risk perception and behavior, those with less favorable attitudes toward a COVID-19 vaccination also perceived the virus to be less threatening. We provide suggestive evidence that differential exposure to media channels and social networks could explain the observed asymmetric polarization between self-identified Democrats and Republicans.

Keywords: Risk, Political party, Vaccination, Threat, COVID-19, Longitudinal

Suggested Citation

Fridman, Ariel and Gershon, Rachel and Gneezy, Ayelet, COVID-19 and Vaccine Hesitancy: A Longitudinal Study (July 7, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Ariel Fridman

ESADE Business School ( email )

Av. de Pedralbes, 60-62
Barcelona, 08034

Rachel Gershon (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

310 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Ayelet Gneezy

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Rady School of Management ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Rady School of Management
La Jolla, CA 92093
United States

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