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Why Young Adults Say They Won’t Get a COVID-19 Vaccine


Key topics of our survey

  • Vaccine adoption has increased slightly in our recent survey, but at this point we can’t say it’s a trend.
  • Vaccine rejecters skew younger than acceptors. Why? One reason could be their favorite news source – social media. Another could be the lesser impact of COVID-19 on the younger population.
  • Rejecting the COVID-19 vaccine could spell disaster. Every age group must take the vaccine, even if they are not as prone to severe infections.

Young people tend to think of themselves as invincible. And in the case of COVID-19, they’re not always wrong – most young people show few symptoms when they contract the SARS-CoV-2 virus. However, our data shows that doing so can lead them to reject the urgency of the COVID-19 vaccination, potentially putting others and their futures at risk.

The pandemic is still raging and the United States is nearing 500,000 COVID-related deaths.But that sobering statistic is paired with some good news: Over 64 million people in the United States have now received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.and the introduction of vaccines includes up to 2 million firearms every day.The US has just secured an additional 200 million vaccine (600 million total) to be delivered by the end of July, which should be enough for any American to get two doses of the vaccine.

Now that the US has secured the necessary doses, the next hurdle is getting everyone to take a vaccine. Verywell Health’s latest vaccine sentiment survey shows a slight increase in vaccine adoption. But vaccine rejection and reluctance remain high: in the most recent survey data, 43% of our respondents say they will not receive the vaccine or have not yet decided whether they will.

The data presented in this article comes from four polls of 1,000 Americans, the most recent responses collected during the week of January 25th. We asked her thoughts and feelings about getting vaccinated against COVID-19. In the survey sample, three types of respondents were highlighted based on their response to whether or not they would receive an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine if it were freely available:

  • Acceptors: This who would agree be vaccinated
  • Rejector: The who would disagree taking a vaccine
  • Undecided: Those who I do not know if they took a vaccine

The types of people who say they will not take the vaccine or have not chosen to take the vaccine are many. But we see a lot of them in younger age groups. Here we examine attitudes towards anti-COVID-19 vaccination in people under 40 years of age.

Who are the young rejections?

Our data shows that people who say they won’t get the COVID-19 vaccine are consistently younger than people who say they definitely will. In our latest wave, younger respondents are more than twice as likely to not want the vaccine as older respondents. Almost half (47%) of those under 30 reject it, compared with just 17% of those over 50.

Of those surveyed under 30, 47% say they won’t get the COVID-19 vaccine, 35% say they will, and 18% say they don’t know.

This trend could increase as younger people are less likely to get COVID-19 infection. Only 43% of respondents under 30 say they are concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to 67% of respondents over 50 who are at higher risk of developing serious illnesses.

Not only are younger people less worried about COVID-19; They are also less convinced that the vaccines are effective against it. Only 22% of those under 30 are confident that the vaccine will protect them from COVID, compared to 49% of those over 50. Since the infection is less severe in younger populations and they believe a vaccine isn’t going to do them much anyway, it makes sense that a vaccine might be more difficult to sell.

Why it matters

If younger people don’t usually get very sick with COVID-19, why do we care if they don’t get vaccinated? Successful vaccination campaigns rely on a large section of the population becoming immune to the infection – that is, developing a “herd immunity” person. Even if they don’t have many symptoms, younger people are just as likely as older people to transmit COVID-19. We all need to step up and get vaccinated to keep everyone safe.

Who does the audience under 30 listen to?

Our survey responses suggest another potential source of COVID-19 vaccine disapproval among the younger population: media consumption by those under 30.

We already know from the past few weeks that social media is an important source of COVID-19 news for all of our respondents, second only to cable and local news. And social media is the biggest driver of COVID-19 vaccine information among respondents who said they don’t get a chance.

Twenty-eight percent of vaccine opters see COVID-19 news on Instagram, and nearly one in five rejecters gets their pandemic news from TikTok.

The audience of these apps is younger compared to Facebook.

  • 86% of TikTok users are under 45
  • 78% of Instagram users are under 45
  • 61.8% of Facebook users are under 45

In our survey, 75% of respondents under 30 say they receive COVID-19 messages through social media, compared to 36% of those over 50, so it makes sense that these younger users should be the anti-vaccinators of social media. have active rejections.

People under the age of 30 are about twice as likely to turn to social media influencers and celebrities to make their decision about a COVID-19 vaccine. They are also significantly less likely to say that healthcare workers are relevant to their decision (44% versus 67% for those over 50).

Social media: the good and the bad

Social media and the internet have democratized information, so there’s some good here. Lots of people share accurate vaccine information – the platforms can give doctors and scientists a voice to reach people directly.

Others use social media to share their vaccination experience, vaccination response, and side effects (or lack thereof). It also presents itself as an opportunity for young people who are very ill with COVID-19 to highlight their experiences and share that the danger is real.

The problem is, the lack of regulations governing user-generated content has turned social media into a treasure trove of misinformation, disinformation and rumors.Users can post without verifying the veracity of their claims – or even with no intention of being accurate at all. And algorithms are designed to keep you scrolling.

How social media brands react

Given the devastating public health impact of COVID-19 misinformation, social media companies have put some rules and resources in place for their users.

  • Tick ​​tock Created an in-app notice of posts with # covid19 and related hashtags that connects users to the World Health Organization website and local health authorities. According to their Safety Center, the platform is actively removing anti-vaccine content and working with fact-checking partners to remove incorrect or misleading content.
  • Instagram has introduced a number of updates including messages about any content identified as COVID-19 related and is forwarding users to the Word Health Organization to learn more. The platform has also added more stickers to promote accurate information.
  • Facebook has created personalized pages of the COVID-19 Information Center and the vaccine search will only find information from reputable sources. Facebook has now banned all posts with false vaccine statements – not just those about COVID-19.

So what can we do? We know people say they are more likely to get the COVID-19 vaccine if they know someone who has it. Seventy percent of those who know someone who has been vaccinated say they would get a vaccination compared to 48% of those who do not know someone who has been vaccinated.

When it’s time for a vaccination, take your dose and share your story on social media. Encourage your friends and family to have theirs if their doctor recommends it.


The Verywell Vaccine Sentiment Tracker is a bi-weekly measurement of Americans’ attitudes and behaviors regarding COVID-19 and the vaccine. The survey will be conducted online of 1,000 American adults every other week starting December 16, 2020. The total sample matches the US Census estimates for age, gender, race / ethnicity, and region.

The information in this article is current as of the date indicated, which means more recent information may be available by the time you read this. For the latest updates on COVID-19, visit our Coronavirus news page.


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