December 2, 2020

Newswise — Washington, DC—As coronavirus cases rage throughout the United States—killing more than a quarter million in the U.S.—news of the effectiveness of vaccine candidates provides hope. The government projects that pharmaceutical companies will provide 40 million doses—enough for 20 million people—by the end of 2020. But questions remain about vaccine distribution and the hesitancy or refusal by some to take the vaccine once it is available. Sociological research has found that decisions about vaccine refusal are complex and can stem from individualistic attitudes and approaches to parenting. 

The American Sociological Association has compiled a list of experts who can provide background on the social issues that must be interrogated to understand COVID-19 and vaccines. These experts are available to answer media questions and provide perspective for news stories.

Richard M. Carpiano (PhD, MPH) is Professor of Public Policy and Sociology at the University of California, Riverside. His research investigates factors that underlie vaccine hesitancy and uptake; policies aimed at promoting vaccine uptake; and public attitudes toward such policies. Additionally, he studies antivaccine activism in the U.S. and its recent evolution into COVID-19 science denialist activism. More broadly, Carpiano’s research centers on factors that shape health inequalities across socioeconomic and racial-ethnic groups.

Kevin Estep is Assistant Professor of Health Administration and Policy and of Medical Humanities at Creighton University (Omaha, Neb,). His research focuses on the social contexts that support vaccine refusal among parents of young children, with specific emphasis on why parents who opt out of vaccines tend to be concentrated in particular areas. His work on this topic was recently published in the American Sociological Review. This research suggests that planning for COVID-19 vaccine distribution and education should consider not only the individual-level demographics and attitudes that influence vaccine decisions, but also the residential and social contexts.

Jennifer Reich is Professor of Sociology at the University of Colorado-Denver. She is the author of an award-winning book, Calling the Shots: Why Parents Reject Vaccines, and dozens of articles that examine how individuals and families weigh information and strategize their interactions with the state and service providers, particularly as they relate to vaccines, healthcare, welfare, and infectious diseases. Her research has been featured in many news outlets including the New York Times, the Washington Post, NPR, Vox, and Newsweek, and on the Netflix show, Bill Nye Saves the World.

For more experts or resources, contact the ASA.


About the American Sociological Association

The American Sociological Association, founded in 1905, is a non‐profit membership association dedicated to serving sociologists in their work, advancing sociology as a science and profession, and promoting the contributions to and use of sociology by society. For media seeking to reach sociologist experts, contact Johanna Olexy, Assistant Director of Communications, at (202) 247-9873 or [email protected]