Study: Millennials and Gen Z now most concerned about COVID-19 vaccine news

Millennial and Gen Z consumers are now, more than ever, interested in COVID-19 vaccines, and are turning to the World Health Organisation (WHO), as well as science and health experts for information about it.

A recent study done by Wunderman Thompson, University of Melbourne and Pollfish, in collaboration with WHO, found that 55% of Millennials and Gen Zs globally are interested in information regarding a COVID-19 vaccine now, versus 45.6% at the start of the pandemic. The study surveyed 23,500 people (aged 18 to 40) between October 2020 and January 2021, across 24 countries including Indonesia, Philippines, South Korea, Japan, Australia, China, UK and US. 

Information about vaccines also made it to the top interest of COVID-19 related topics, followed by health directives from WHO and local governments, and national updates about the pandemic. By contrast, interest in the opinions of celebrities and influencers on COVID-19 ranked low both at the start of the pandemic and now. Despite their influence over many areas of people's lives, when it comes to facts/health they don't rank highly. Thus, health communicators should think twice before relying on celebrities or influencers to disseminate information, the study said. 

To gain more insight of the vaccines, 41.9% of the respondents said social media content by the WHO would be their first source for such information. WHO is also the most trusted source, with 45.5% of respondents saying they will go to the organisation for public health information. This is followed closely by science and health experts, which 44% of respondent said they will turn to. While Millennials and Gen Z consumers are arguably the most active on social media platforms, only 9.8% trust their own social media community when it comes to vaccine information. 

Meanwhile,  only 20% of respondents trust vaccine information from their local government but trust television (19.7%) and newspapers (18.5%) less slightly. The study also found that 59.3% of respondents feel that the media is "not telling them everything", and 57.1% feel that their government is not giving the full picture on the pandemic. Additionally, about half of the respondents overall feel that their government is not doing enough to control the pandemic and about half feel that their government is overreacting.

However, when looking for general information about COVID-19, the study showed that national newspaper, television and radio ranked the highest (43.6%) as the go-to source. This was followed by actively searching using search engines (36.2%), international newspaper, television and radio (35.2%), and social media content by traditional media (34.2%). 

Traditional media is also losing trust in Southeast Asia. Most recently, Edelman's Trust Barometer found that trust in traditional media in Singapore is on a drastic decline. This continues in a downward trend since 2019 and marking the first time in the past decade that traditional media is not trusted. Nearly one-in-two respondents feel that the media in Singapore is not doing well at being objective and non-partisan. According to Edelman, while media is trusted as a business institution, when it comes to news and a source of information, the global infodemic has had a negative impact on trust in traditional media, search engines, owned media and social media.

Trust in all sources is near record lows in Singapore. Singaporeans are also found to be worried that government leaders (50%), business leaders (53%), and journalists (57%) are purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations.

Curtis Williams

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