Direct and Indirect Associations of Media Use With COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy in South Korea: Cross-sectional Web-Based Survey.J Med Internet Res. 2022 01 06; 24(1):e32329.JM
The battle against the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has not concluded. Despite the availability of vaccines, the high prevalence of vaccine hesitancy represents a significant challenge to public health, and raising vaccine acceptance among the public is critical. Although media has become an increasingly popular source of COVID-19 vaccine-related information, the question of whether and how media use is related to the public's vaccine hesitancy warrants exploration.
This study aimed to (1) examine the level of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, (2) identify factors associated with COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, and (3) explore the direct and indirect relationship between media use and vaccine hesitancy through psychological factors.
A month before COVID-19 vaccination was initiated in South Korea, we conducted a cross-sectional web-based survey over 6 days (January 20-25, 2021). This study included 1016 participants, and a logit model for regression analyzed associations between sociodemographic factors, health-related factors, psychological factors, and media use toward one's COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy. Additionally, we conducted a path analysis to examine the indirect effects of media use on vaccine hesitancy by using psychological factors (ie, perceived risk of COVID-19 infection, perceived benefits, and perceived barriers of COVID-19 vaccination).
Among the participants (N=1016), 53.3% (541/1016) hesitated to take the COVID-19 vaccine, while 46.7% (475/1016) agreed to accept the vaccine. Of the sociodemographic factors, female gender (odds ratio [OR] 1.967, 95% CI 1.36-2.86; P<.001), age in 50s (OR 0.47, 95% CI 0.23-0.96; P=.004), and age over 60s (OR 0.49, 95% CI 0.24-0.99; P=.04) were significant individual predictors of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy. Perceived susceptibility of infection (OR 0.69, 95% CI 0.52-0.91; P=.01) and perceived benefits of vaccination (OR 0.69, 95% CI 0.52-0.91; P=.01) were associated with lower vaccine hesitancy. Perceived barriers of vaccination (OR 1.63, 95% CI 1.29-2.07; P<.001) and lower trust in government (OR 0.72, 95% CI 0.53-0.98; P=.04) were related to vaccine hesitancy. The use of offline and online media as sources for the perceived benefits of vaccination was associated with vaccine hesitancy, resulting in lower vaccine hesitancy. Moreover, perceived susceptibility of the disease and perceived barriers of vaccination mediated the association between social media use and vaccine hesitancy.
Our findings revealed a considerable level of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in South Korea. Gender-based and generation-based public health policies and communication are recommended. Efforts to lower the perceived risk of vaccine side effects and heighten perceived benefits of the vaccine are required. Although the use of media has a positive and negative effect on the population's vaccine hesitancy, efforts should be made to disseminate reliable and timely information on media while confronting misinformation or disinformation for successive implementation of vaccine programs during pandemics.