Adolescents’ Opinions on COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy: Hints toward Enhancing Pandemic Preparedness in the Future
To understand and assess vaccine reluctance, it is necessary to evaluate people’s perceptions and grasp potential reasons for generic apprehension. In our analysis, we focus on adolescents’ impressions towards anti-vaxxer behavior. The aim of the study is to figure out students’ opinions about vaccine reluctance, connecting possible explanations that motivate anti-vaxxer decisions with common specific personality traits. We further investigate people’s forecasts concerning the evolution of the pandemic. Between 2021 and 2022, we conducted a randomized survey experiment on a sample of high school individuals ( N = 395 ) living in different Italian regions. At that time, the vaccination campaign had already been promoted for nearly one year. From the analysis, it emerges that vaccinated people (92%), especially males, tend to be more pessimistic and attribute a higher level of generic distrust in science to anti-vaxxers. The results show that family background (mother’s education) represents the most influential regressor: individuals coming from less educated families are less prone to attribute generic distrust and distrust of vaccines as principal reasons for vaccine reluctance. Similarly, those who rarely use social media develop a minor tendency to believe in a generic pessimism of anti-vaxxers. However, concerning the future of the pandemic, they are less likely to be optimistic toward vaccines. Overall, our findings shed light on adolescents’ perceptions regarding the factors that influence vaccine hesitancy and highlight the need for targeted communication strategies to improve vaccination rates.