Profiles of Vaccine Hesitancy: The Relation Between Personal Experience With Vaccines, Attitude Towards Mandatory Vaccination, and Support for Anti-Vaccine Arguments Among Vaccine Hesitant Individuals
This paper investigates the susceptibility to anti-vaccine rhetoric in the vaccine-hesitant population. Based on the literature on attitudes and attitude change it was assumed that susceptibility to anti-vaccine arguments may be related to personal experience with vaccination and to the strength of vaccine hesitant attitudes. The first aim of the study was to investigate the relation between personal experience with post-vaccination side effects and acceptance of select categories of anti-vaccine arguments. The second aim was to compare whether vaccination deniers and the vaccine-ambiguous group differ in their susceptibility to these arguments. The online survey was run in Poland on a final sample of 492 vaccine hesitant respondents. Results indicate that individuals who declared a negative experience with vaccination were persuaded by all types of anti-vaccine arguments. Moreover, pre-existing anti-vaccine skepticism may cause individuals to interpret negative symptoms as consequences of vaccines, further reinforcing the negative attitude. Additionally, it appeared that the vaccine-ambiguous believe in serious negative side effects of vaccination and ulterior motives of pharmaceutical companies, but do not believe that vaccines are ineffective. However, the opinion profile for vaccine deniers indicates that it may be a generalized stance, rather than a set of individual issues concerning different perceived negative aspects of vaccination.