Mapping Vaccine Hesitancy in Italy. A Correlational Class Analysis of Shared Understandings of Vaccine Uptake.

Mauro Martinelli , Università degli Studi di Trento

Vaccine prophylaxis is a major public-health success of the 20th century. Despite strong public support, several countries are facing suboptimal coverage rates especially due to the opposition of groups of individuals unwilling to vaccinate. In the theoretical framework of hyper-specialised risk societies, this paper provides a two-step empirical analysis of the determinants of ‘vaccine hesitancy’, the delay or refusal of vaccine prophylaxis. Existing empirical research mainly focus on central tendencies of single belief-related items to estimate individual’s vaccination likelihood. But contributions from the cognitive sociology field suggest that groups of individuals are characterised not only by same preferences but implicit interpretative and epistemic frameworks of the same social object. Using data from an original survey on a rappresentative sample of the Italian population, this research employs Correlational Class Analysis to empirically exploit this notion and cluster individuals according to their shared understanding of the vaccination issue. Each cluster is subsequently independently analysed to assess the role of individual’s characteristics, beliefs and attitudes in shaping vaccination decisions, revealing differences that might have offset each-other in the aggregate. Preliminary results suggest the existence of three clusters based on a different juxtaposition of risk perception and confidence in vaccine prophylaxis, whereas socio-demographic characteristics present a very limited explanatory power. This study offers a novel perspective in the way systems of beliefs can be analysed and moves one step further in underlining and disentangling the complexity of vaccine hesitancy in contemporary society.

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 Presented in Session P2. Poster Session Ageing, Health and Mortality