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    From Mistrust to Missed Shots: The effect of interpersonal and institutional trust on COVID-19 vaccination delay and refusal

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    This thesis investigates the effect of interpersonal and institutional trust on COVID-19 vaccination hesitancy. The COVID-19 pandemic unfolded as an unprecedented public health crisis with profound social and economic consequences. Although the development and distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations helped to reduce the spread and severity of the disease, ongoing vaccine hesitancy has presented a challenge to achieving sufficient coverage. Our research seeks to determine whether interpersonal and institutional trust predict COVID-19 vaccination delay and refusal. We use an unprecedentedly rich and representative dataset of over 22,000 New Zealand respondents, sourced from the 2014, 2016, and 2018 General Social Survey. Respondents reported their trust in seven domains: Parliament, police, health, education, courts, media, and the general public. These data are linked to respondents’ vaccination status, vaccination event date, and demographic characteristics. We use linear regression models to assess the correlation between interpersonal and institutional trust and vaccination delay and refusal while controlling for relevant covariates. Our research findings reveal that all measured trust domains exhibit a significant, negative correlation with vaccine hesitancy. As trust increases, vaccination hesitancy decreases. The correlation is strongest for trust in police and interpersonal trust, and weakest for trust in media. By understanding how trust informs vaccination decision-making, we can better prepare for and respond to future pandemics and public health crises.</p
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