The Effect of Trusted News Sources on the Confidence in the Safety of COVID-19 Vaccination

Date

2023

Authors

Alkhatib, Sarah A.
Akpan, Idara N.
Taskin, Tanjila
Vishwanatha, Jamboor K.
Thompson, Erika L.

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Abstract

Purpose: COVID-19 vaccination prevents severe disease manifestations; yet uptake has been suboptimal. Confidence in the safety and efficacy of the vaccine influences COVID-19 vaccination decisions. Exposure to information from a trusted news source can impact perceptions and may contribute to vaccine decisions. This study assessed the association between trusted news sources and confidence in the safety of COVID-19 vaccination among Texas adults.

Methods: Participants were recruited through an online panel using quota sampling based on the racial and ethnic distribution of Texas in July 2022 (n=1089). The primary predictor variable was self-reported trusted news sources for COVID-19 related news (16 options), in which respondents were asked to endorse any news source they trusted, with options ranging from print media to cable news to local news. The outcome was confidence in the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine (not at all confident to very confident). Multinomial regression analyses were conducted to model confidence in COVID-19 vaccination and trusted news sources while controlling for education, age, gender, and self-reported race.

Results: Through an initial descriptive analysis, Fox News, local cable TV programs, and news broadcasting from one’s home abroad were associated with lower confidence levels. After grouping those three sources as "top news sources” and assessing their effect on confidence through a multinomial model, it was found that individuals who trusted those top sources were significantly less likely to endorse "somewhat confident” (OR=0.59, 95%CI 0.4-0.89) or "very confident” (OR=0.41, 95%CI 0.27- 0.62) compared to being "not at all confident” in the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Conclusions: Study findings show that some trusted news sources contributed to participants having less confidence or no confidence in the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine. Public health initiatives should consider how to address vaccine confidence among the public given the diversity of information sources people rely on.

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