Influenza has killed up to 49,000 Americans in a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Each year, an effective vaccination is widely available. Yet the myth remains among a subsection of people that getting a shot means you get the flu, that it contains dangerous chemicals, that it causes neurological disorders.
All these are false, of course. So you would think debunking them would prompt the concerned parties to pony up and get a shot. According to the journal Vaccine, that’s not the case. In a study published on Monday, researchers took 1,000 people and split them into three groups and identified those who were either “very” or “extremely” concerned about side effects—24 percent of participants divided more or less equally.
From there, one group got information about the risks that come with getting the flu. The second group learned about how patients who get the shot won’t get the flu. The third group was the control and did not receive any materials.
From here, take it away NPR:
The debunking materials did appear to shift the needle on beliefs. Among those with high concerns about side effects, 70 percent in the comparison group believed they could get the flu from the vaccine compared with 51 percent who read the myth-buster. Among those with low concerns, 39 percent of the comparison group and 27 percent of those who read the debunking materials believed the misperception.
But actually planning to get the vaccine? That’s another story: 46 percent of those with high concerns in the comparison group said they intended to get the vaccine. Yet only 28 percent of folks with high concerns who read the debunking materials said they might get one. And that’s just their intention. “If you can’t change their intentions, good luck changing their behavior,” Nyhan said.