How To Avoid Mental Blind Spots When Thinking About Covid-19 Vaccine Risks


How you frame your decision to get a vaccine can ease your concerns.

Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Dr. Joshua Liao discusses how psychological biases can let worries about vaccine side effects overwhelm rational consideration.

Millions of Americans have received Covid-19 vaccines. Over 10% of individuals in many states have received one dose, and the U.S. is on pace to secure enough vaccines to cover all adults across the nation by the end of July. These are encouraging developments as public officials work to vaccinate the majority of adults across the country.

But the U.S. will fail to fully reap the benefits of vaccines if enough citizens don’t take them. Unfortunately, there are reasons to worry about this dynamic, with recent polls suggesting that 30% to 40% of Americans would “probably” or “definitely” not get a Covid-19 vaccine.

One major reason for this is a fear of side effects. Among people who would decline vaccination, nearly two-thirds cited concerns about side effects. My own experience corroborates this: over the last several months, I have had loved ones and colleagues from around the country reach out to express vaccine apprehension.


It is important to avoid cognitive biases about Covid-19 vaccines, and even more so about potential side effects given widespread public concerns…

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