Messages That Increase COVID-19 Vaccine Willingness: Evidence From Online Experiments in Six Latin American Countries
138 Pages Posted: 28 Mar 2021 Last revised: 29 Jun 2021
Date Written: June 28, 2021
As safe and effective vaccines become widely available, attaining herd immunity and limiting the spread of COVID-19 will depend on individuals choosing to vaccinate and doing so quickly enough to outpace mutations. Using online surveys conducted in January 2021 across six Latin American countries - where mass vaccination programs have only recently begun and are expected to continue into 2022 - we experimentally assess messages designed to counteract informational deficiencies and collective action problems that may drive hesitancy. We first find that basic vaccine information persuades around 8% of hesitant individuals to become willing to vaccinate, reduces the time individuals intend to wait before vaccinating once a vaccine is available to them by 0.4 months, and increases willingness to encourage others to vaccinate. Rather than facilitating free riding, learning, or social conformity, providing information about others’ behavior increases vaccine willingness and willingness to encourage others to vaccinate among respondents induced to expect that herd immunity will be achieved in their country. Finally, priming the social approval benefits of vaccinating also increase each dimension of vaccine acceptance, and is more effective than messages highlighting economic or altruistic benefits of vaccination. These results suggest that providing information and shaping social expectations and incentives could both be important in encouraging vaccine uptake.
Keywords: COVID-19, vaccine hesitancy, Latin America, information, collective action, social approval
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