The Psychology Behind Anti-Vaxxing and Vaccine Hesitancy

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Never had ‘anti-vaccination’ been so scientifically studied before the revelation brought forth by the COVID-19 pandemic. Populations split into two groups: the hopeful and the defensive. The Anti-vaccination movement was supported by those hesitant to vaccinate themselves against the virus and believed it to be a form of human corruption. 

What makes people anti-vaccine? Here’s the psychology:


Some people have a more negative outlook on the world. The likelihood of believing a conspiracy theory remains a predictable quality of individuals. By comparing whether they believe theories like Princess Diana was murdered and 9/11 was an inside job, one could predict whether they were likely to be anti-vax. This might relate to the personality type or neuroticism levels of an individual. 

But the studies indicate that whatever makes people against vaccines is a consistent trait that can be predicted using recorded data and numbers. 

The Role of Politics

But in a society, people are not truly individuals. Micro and macro factors influence us at different levels of subconsciousness. Political leaders can greatly influence one’s thoughts. It might work in two ways. First, the leader is liked and influential. They can give great speeches and convince people to reform their thoughts in alignment with their own. The second factor is democracy. People elect a leader that shares their ideas and beliefs. If they can elect someone hesitant towards vaccination, that leader can move ahead of the propaganda by influencing more people and controlling aspects of access, distribution, and safety. 

Perspective on Medicine

Another powerful player: education. What we are taught, how we are taught, and what we are expected to do with what we have learned differ from region to region. In learning science, we learn about how many things are still unknown. Education makes people realize how little we actually know and how much applied science (the creation of a vaccine, for instance) rests on probabilities. 

This emphasis on this thought can make it a perspective against allopathic medicine. These people might have also had the opportunity to experience alternative medicine like homeopathy, reiki, and acupuncture, which decreases their trust in lab-manufactured vaccines. 

Repressed Fear

A psychological analysis would be incomplete without mentioning defense mechanisms. The anti-vaccine belief could simply be about a fear of needles. 

Sometimes it is hard to accept that we are scared of something. This is repression. The fear gets repressed, and one forms a reaction to the concept of vaccines. Conspiracy theories like ‘the vaccine has a chip using which the government can track you’ become more plausible to your ego. 

You protect yourself by believing that vaccines are ineffective and come with an alternative motive. 

So, What Now?

How do we resolve the debate between people who believe in the vaccine and those who are anti-vax? Does the psychology behind anti-vax beliefs validate the beliefs themselves?

Worldviews form through experience. When anti-vaxxers’ beliefs are led by their worldview, they might be a little harder to change. When there are political influences, education needs to take a broader approach for the whole society. 

To those who are hesitant because of their perspective on medicine, it’s important to remember that we, as the human race, have come a long way, and medicine for most human conditions has successfully improved lives throughout the globe. With every passing day, medicine gets better. 

So philosophically, anti-vaxxers have the right to believe what they want to believe, but crunch the numbers, and there are more reasons to take the vaccine than not.

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