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Faculty & Research


Distance to Vaccine Sites Is Associated With Lower COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake

Journal Article
COVID-19 remains a leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States, despite widespread availability of vaccines. Conventional wisdom ties failure to vaccinate primarily to vaccine-skeptic beliefs (e.g., conspiracy theories, partisanship). Yet in this research, the authors find that vaccination is also hindered by travel distance to vaccine sites (a form of friction, or structural barriers). In study 1, Californians living farther from vaccine sites had lower vaccination rates. In study 2, vaccine site openings in Chicago were followed by an uptick in vaccination in the vaccine site’s surrounding zip code. These results proved robust in multiverse analyses using thousands of models to account for a wide range of covariates, outcome measures, and distance indicators. COVID-19 vaccination is hampered not just by vaccine-hesitant beliefs, but also structural barriers such as distance. Thus, efforts to address vaccine hesitancy might well focus not only on changing beliefs but also minimizing friction.

Professor of Marketing