Buddhism beliefs

Vaccines: philosophical and moral beliefs related to religion determine acceptance

According to a new study, strong philosophical and moral beliefs associated with many religions may contribute to vaccine hesitancy and reduce vaccination rates.

Researchers from four universities, including the University of Michigan, examined attitudes and behaviors for three vaccines: influenza, measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), and human papillomavirus (HPV). They wanted to know more about the relationship with philosophical, spiritual and moral beliefs.

Published in the Journal of Health Psychology, the findings offered guidance on how health agencies can encourage more people to get vaccinated, including those linked to COVID-19.

News reports in recent years have chronicled religious and public health debates about taking vaccines. Few studies have examined religious affiliations, beliefs and attitudes toward vaccinations, and self-reported vaccination rates in a large sample, the study co-author said. hang onUM lecturer in communication and media.

In 2018-2019, more than 3,000 adults nationwide responded to four online and telephone surveys regarding their attitudes and behaviors regarding the three vaccines. They represented various religious groups: Protestants, Roman Catholics and Orthodox Catholics, Mormons, “righteous” Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and Hindus, Unitarians, others, agnostics or nothing in particular.

The study asked, “Does your religion prohibit its members from getting vaccinated?” and “Do you follow what your religion says about vaccines or not?” Only 3% – mostly Roman Catholics and Protestants – said their religion did not allow the vaccine, and only half said they followed that mandate.

For philosophical views, such as “health is controlled by God”, identifying as Protestant, “just” Christian or Muslim had stronger beliefs related to flu shots. Strong philosophical beliefs predicted weaker intentions to encourage others to get the flu shot, as well as hesitancy to get the flu shot themselves.

When it came to moral beliefs, the opposite happened: stronger intentions were present to get vaccinated and encourage others to do the same. Moral beliefs were associated with positive attitudes toward influenza and MMR vaccines

Lu and his colleagues say that if health agencies want to increase vaccination rates, the marketing strategy must change. Rather than targeting a particular religious identity, which will elicit defensive reactions and create public stigma attached to certain religious groups, it is more fruitful and ethical for public health messages about vaccination to target these specific beliefs.

“Public health messaging could frame vaccination recommendations in ways that highlight compatibility with (or lack of direct antagonism to) these beliefs,” Lu said.

Study co-authors include Ozan Kuru, National University of Singapore; Man-pui Chan, Kathleen Jamieson and Dolores Albarracin, University of Pennsylvania; and Dominik Stecula, Colorado State University.

More information: