And yet the polling also suggests that some Americans are choosing to preserve their health despite the social pressure to avoid taking a step that science shows is critical to ending the pandemic.
“There are some who are resisting the social pressure and doing the right thing even though they might be doing it on the down-low,” Carpiano said.
At one hospital in Missouri, medical professionals have set up a private area so that patients can get vaccinated where no one can see them.
Ozarks Healthcare spokesperson Brittany Simers declined to comment for this story. But one of the Ozarks doctors, Priscilla Frase, said in a video produced by the hospital that patients had voiced concerns about how their family members, friends and co-workers would react if they got vaccinated.
“Nobody should have to feel that pressure to get something that they want,” Frase said. “We’ve got to stop ridiculing people who do or don’t want to get the vaccine.”
Holdouts are less likely to admit it if they decide to get vaccinated
To be sure, getting vaccinated has been a source of pride for countless Americans. Some posted selfies of themselves getting vaccinated or showing their vaccine card. Others wore a celebratory sticker they got from their vaccine clinic.
Indeed, 91% of Americans who got vaccinated in the first few months of the immunization campaign are willing to tell anyone, according to the poll.
But that would not be the case for those who are still refusing the shots. Of those who haven’t gotten one, 36% say that if they did, they wouldn’t tell anyone, according to the Harris Poll.
Dallas-Fort Worth area resident Julie said it took significant convincing to get her mother, who resides in an assisted living facility, to get vaccinated recently.
But when she finally did, her mother asked Julie not to tell her sister due to her sister’s adherence to QAnon, a loosely connected group of conspiracy theorists that some experts have called a “cult” for its religious-like fervor. Among many other things, QAnon followers have espoused false various theories about the COVID vaccines.
“My anti-vaxx sister – she blocked me on Twitter and she blocked me on Facebook,” said Julie, who requested that USA TODAY not publish her last name to avoid her sister finding out about her mom’s vaccination status.
Julie said she’s saddened by the anti-vaccination movement, especially given the numerous people she’s known who contracted COVID-19.
“I can’t even count how many (have died from the disease),” she said.
Resisting vaccination isn’t necessarily about the facts
Experts on misinformation, political tribalism and group identity emphasized that Americans who are resisting vaccination aren’t necessarily doing so because of their conclusions about the effectiveness of the shots.
In fact, there is precedent for people compromising their own safety to remain in good standing with their social group, said Jonathan Rauch, a Brookings Institution expert on polarization and author of “The Constitution of Knowledge: A Defense of Truth.”
“People will gladly go to war and risk being killed and even get killed in order to stay on good terms with their group,” he said. “So you can apply that to vaccination.”
In other cases, some people may not be willing to tell others they’re vaccinated because they feel like they’ve let them down.
“They’ll actually feel that getting vaccinated, while maybe self-interested, is morally wrong or some type of betrayal,” Rauch said. “They may feel guilty about it.”
In that respect, the quintessentially human desire to be liked and loved explains why many people don’t want to get publicly vaccinated.
“It’s not irrational to be afraid of what your family, your coworkers, your church, your neighborhood is going to do to you if you’re seen to break ranks with this group orthodoxy,” said Harrington, the Dartmouth sociologist. “So of course you get vaccinated in disguise.”
Read the full story at USA Today.