Background: Identifying the key determinants of vaccine uptake in the context of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is critical to increasing vaccination rates, especially for Medicare beneficiaries. Objective: We examined how the source of COVID-19 information shapes perceptions of COVID-19 severity and the likelihood of COVID-19 vaccine uptake among Medicare beneficiaries. Design, Setting, and Participants: We included 6478 Medicare beneficiaries from the Fall 2020 Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey COVID-19 Supplement. Main Measures: Our dependent variables were perception of COVID-19 severity and the likelihood of getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Our key independent variable was the beneficiaries’ primary source of information about COVID-19 and included six mutually exclusive categories: traditional news sources, guidance from government officials, social media, other webpages/Internet, friends or family members, or health care providers. Key Results: Compared to those relying on traditional news sources or guidance from governmental officials, those relying on other sources had lower perceptions of COVID-19 severity and lower likelihood of getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Those relying on social media had the lowest levels in all measures (65.5% for those who agreed that COVID-19 is more contagious than the flu, 62.1% for those who agreed that COVID-19 is more deadly than the flu, 87.8% for those who agreed that all should take COVID-19 precautions, and 43.3% for those who answered that they would get a COVID-19 vaccine). The likelihood of COVID-19 vaccine uptake was also low among those relying on health care providers (55.5%). These findings remained similar even after adjusting for perceptions of COVID-19 severity in the relationship between the source of COVID-19 information and the likelihood of COVID-19 vaccine uptake. Conclusions: The primary source of information that Medicare beneficiaries used to learn about COVID-19 may play a critical role in shaping perceptions of COVID-19 severity and attitudes toward getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2021, Society of General Internal Medicine.
- risk perception
- source of information
- vaccine uptake