by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
People with a PhD are the most hesitant when it comes to getting the Covid-19 vaccine, according to a paper by researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.
Researchers surveyed just over five million US adults in an online survey, with 10,000 reporting that they were educated to PhD level.
The report showed a surprising U-shaped correlation between willingness to get a Covid vaccine and education level – with the highest hesitancy among those least and most educated.
Of those surveyed, 20.8 per cent with a high school education were reluctant to get the shot, and 23.9 per cent with a PhD were against it.
But the least skeptical of the shot had a Master’s degree – with only 8.3 per cent of that group being vaccine hesitant.
The researchers did not offer an explanation as to why so many people with PhDs were vaccine hesitant, and the paper noted that ‘further investigation into hesitancy among those with a PhD is warranted’.
The report said: ‘To our knowledge, no other study has evaluated education with this level of granularity, which was possible due to our unusually large sample (of over 10,000 participants with PhDs).’
There has been a universal assumption among many that education level negatively correlated with vaccine hesitancy – more educated people are more likely to receive the vaccine.
But researchers also found that within the first five months of 2021 the largest decrease in skepticism about getting the vaccine was among the least educated – those with a high school education or less.
By May, reluctance to get vaccinated held constant in the most educated group – those with PhDs.
‘Those with PhDs were the only education groups without a decrease in hesitancy,’ the paper read.
It attributed their ‘refusal or reluctance to be vaccinated’ to ‘slowed vaccination uptake, potentially prolonging the pandemic’.