News media can influence citizens’ health beliefs about COVID-19 and eventually their vaccination intention. However, existing literature has rarely investigated how such effect is contingent upon a country-level factor: press freedom. Situated in the Health Belief Model, this study draws upon a multi-national survey (N = 3,599), involving 10 major cities in Asia to address the research gap. Results showed that news exposure has a positive effect on personal health beliefs on COVID-19, affecting their vaccination intention. More interestingly, the relationship between news exposure and personal health beliefs about COVID-19 was negatively moderated by level of press freedom–that is, the relationship between news exposure and personal health beliefs is stronger in cities that belong to countries with low levels of press freedom.