Expert Pitch

Sociologists Available to Discuss Vaccines and COVID-19

American Sociological Association (ASA)

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

Filters close

Showing results

110 of 4573
Released: 15-Jan-2021 5:40 PM EST
Research Links Social Isolation to COVID-19 Protocol Resistance
Humboldt State University

As health officials continue to implore the public to wear masks and practice social distancing, recent research by Humboldt State University Psychology Professor Amber Gaffney provides key insights into connections between social isolation, conspiratorial thinking, and resistance to COVID-19 protocols.

Newswise: Rapid blood test identifies COVID-19 patients at high risk of severe disease
Released: 15-Jan-2021 5:35 PM EST
Rapid blood test identifies COVID-19 patients at high risk of severe disease
Washington University in St. Louis

Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have shown that a relatively simple and rapid blood test can predict which patients with COVID-19 are at highest risk of severe complications or death. The blood test measures levels of mitochondrial DNA, which normally resides inside the energy factories of cells. Mitochondrial DNA spilling out of cells and into the bloodstream is a sign that a particular type of violent cell death is taking place in the body.

Released: 15-Jan-2021 2:55 PM EST
COVID-19 deaths really are different. But best practices for ICU care should still apply, studies suggest.
Michigan Medicine - University of Michigan

COVID-19 deaths are indeed different from other lung failure deaths, according to two recent studies, with 56% of COVID-19 patients dying primarily from the lung damage caused by the virus, compared with 22% of those whose lungs fail due to other causes. But, the researchers conclude, the kind of care needed to help sustain people through the worst cases of all forms of lung failure is highly similar, and just needs to be fine-tuned.

Released: 15-Jan-2021 2:50 PM EST
45% of adults over 65 lack online medical accounts that could help them sign up for COVID-19 vaccinations
Michigan Medicine - University of Michigan

As the vaccination of older adults against COVID-19 begins across the country, new poll data suggests that many of them don’t yet have access to the “patient portal” online systems that could make it much easier for them to schedule a vaccination appointment. In all, 45% of adults aged 65 to 80 had not set up an account with their health provider’s portal system.

Released: 15-Jan-2021 1:30 PM EST
New England Journal of Medicine publishes COVID-19 treatment trial results
University of Texas at San Antonio

A clinical trial involving COVID-19 patients hospitalized at UT Health San Antonio and University Health, among roughly 100 sites globally, found that a combination of the drugs baricitinib and remdesivir reduced time to recovery, according to results published Dec. 11 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Released: 15-Jan-2021 12:40 PM EST
DNA test can quickly identify pneumonia in patients with severe COVID-19, aiding faster treatment
University of Cambridge

Researchers have developed a DNA test to quickly identify secondary infections in COVID-19 patients, who have double the risk of developing pneumonia while on ventilation than non-COVID-19 patients.

Released: 15-Jan-2021 12:30 PM EST
Fight CRC To Present Research Findings on The Impact of COVID-19 on the Colorectal Cancer Community at 2021 GI ASCO
Fight Colorectal Cancer

Fight Colorectal Cancer presents abstract at Gastrointestinal Cancer Symposium highlighting the need to address the barriers and opportunities for care within the colorectal cancer community during the COVID-19 pandemic

Released: 15-Jan-2021 12:25 PM EST
Technion to Award Honorary Doctorate to Pfizer CEO Dr. Albert Bourla
American Technion Society

Israel's Technion will award an honorary doctorate to Pfizer CEO and Chairman Dr. Albert Bourla, for leading the development of the novel vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The honorary doctorate will be conferred at the Technion Board of Governors meeting in November 2021.

Released: 15-Jan-2021 11:30 AM EST
UW researchers develop tool to equitably distribute limited vaccines
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and UW Health have developed a tool that incorporates a person’s age and socioeconomic status to prioritize vaccine distribution among people who otherwise share similar risks due to their jobs.

Showing results

110 of 4573