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(LifeSiteNews) — Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh surveyed 5 million Americans and found that not only are those with doctorate degrees the least likely to get vaccinated against COVID-19, they are also the least likely to change their minds on the issue.  

The Daily Mail reported that the researchers found a “U-shape” pattern in the graph comparing education level with “vaccine hesitancy.” Of the 5 million people surveyed, 10,000 of whom had doctorates, the least educated (high school level or below) and the most educated (Ph.D.) are the least likely to be vaccinated, with those with doctorates being the most skeptical by a fair margin.  

Carnegie Mellon found that while only 8.3% of those with a master’s degree were hesitant or opposed to receiving the vaccine, 23.9% of doctorate degree-holders felt the same way. Professional degree-holders were also more likely to be hestiant than those with a bachelor’s degree, with a 12.3% and 11% hesitancy rate, respectively.  

According to the study, vaccine hesitancy dropped in all education-level cohorts except for those with doctorates. The most drastic drop in hesitancy was those in the “high school or less” group, where hesitancy dropped from 35% to 20.8% in the first five months of 2021. Addressing this, the paper states that “those with Ph.D.s were the only education groups without a decrease in hesitancy.” 

This steady maintenance in hesitancy at the doctorate level is an anomaly even when compared with groupings not based on education level, according to the analysis provided by the Daily Mail. 

Black Americans, for example, experienced a drop from 60% to 30% in vaccine hesitancy from January to May, and the Hispanic population saw a similar decrease. Looking at the adult population overall, the data show a drop from 25% to 17% over the same time frame.  

According to the Daily Mail, “Researchers concluded that the most educated people in our society — the people certified to become doctors and treat the virus — are not only the most hesitant about getting vaccinated but are also the least likely to change their minds about it. 

The survey asked respondents to list the reasons they are hesitant to receive the vaccine. The paper reported that the four biggest reasons are concern about side effects, a distrust of COVID-19 vaccines, a distrust in the government, and respondents not “believing” they need the vaccine. 

The research paper did not come to a specific conclusion as to why there is such a strong vaccine hesitancy among those with doctorates, but did note that “further investigation into hesitancy among those with a Ph.D. is warranted.” 

The paper also noted other “risk” factors that correlate with vaccine hesitancy, including “younger age, non-Asian race, having a Ph.D. or less than a high school education, living in a rural county with higher 2020 Trump support, lack of worry about Covid-19, working outside the home, never intentionally avoiding contact with others and no past-year flu vaccine.” 

The paper, and the data therein, still has to undergo the full peer-reviewed process before an official publication can be made in a scientific journal.