COVID-19 stigmatization after the development of effective vaccines: Vaccination behavior, attitudes, and news sources

Don C. Des Jarlais, Sarah Lieff, Margaux Grivel, Gabriella Meltzer, Jasmin Choi, Chenziheng Allen Weng, Jonathan P. Feelemyer, Virginia W. Chang, Lawrence Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective To compare COVID-19 stigmatization at two pandemic time points (1) August 2020—during lockdowns and prior to vaccine rollout, and (2) May 2021—during vaccine rollout, when approximately half of U.S. adults were vaccinated. Methods Comparison of COVID19-related stigmatization and associated factors in two national internet surveys conducted in August 2020 (N = 517) and May 2021 (N = 812). Factors associated with endorsing stigmatization were identified using regression analysis. The main outcomes included endorsement of stigmatization and behavioral restrictions towards persons with COVID-19 and towards persons of Chinese descent. A previously developed “stigmatizing attitudes and behavioral restrictions” scale was adapted to measure the intersection of negative attitudes toward COVID-19 disease and negative attitudes toward persons of Chinese descent. Results COVID-19 related stigmatization declined significantly from August 2020 to May 2021. Many factors were associated with stigmatizing in both surveys: full time employment, Black race, Hispanic ethnicity, worry about contracting COVID-19, probable depression, and Fox News and social media as sources of information (all positively associated), and self-assessed knowledge about COVID-19, contact with Chinese individuals, and publicly funded news as sources (all negatively associated). Positive attitudes toward vaccination were associated with stigmatization. Conclusions COVID-19 related stigmatization reduced substantially over these two points in the pandemic, with many continuities in the factors associated with stigmatizing. Despite the reduction in stigmatizing, however, some stigmatizing attitudes for both COVID-19 and Chinese individuals remained.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0283467
JournalPloS one
Issue number4 April
StatePublished - Apr 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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