Based on various sources, including the recent NY Times podcast with interviews of vaccine resisters/hesitants, here’s my list of common elements.
1. Assuming the sole criterion for whether to take the vaccine is its effect on your own health—not taking into account whether you may infect someone else. Antivax people nearly always justify their choice in terms of their perceived risk of getting Covid and the personal risk posed by the vaccine and not in terms of the vaccine’s potential role (or lack of it) in reducing the extent and duration of the pandemic.
2. Bodily violation: resistance to accepting a foreign substance into their body. Also resistant to pressure from others, such as employers and government, to allow this substance to cross the “skin line”.
3. Personal responsibility for health. Some antivax people think that how sick you get from Covid depends on your general state of health, itself perhaps the result of the measures you’ve taken to protect it. If you stick to what you think is a healthy diet, if you work out, or if you just think you just have “good genes”, you do not think you are at risk and need to vaccinate against it. Some strands of alternative health are strongly invested in the view that there is no randomness to disease: if you get sick it’s because you failed to cleanse, build up your immune system, tune your energy or otherwise do what you should have done. Conversely, if you’ve followed the program you’re not at risk and don’t have to vaccinate.
4. Apparent inability to think probabilistically. A common remark is that you can get Covid even if you’re vaccinated, so what’s the point? Risk is perceived in binary terms: it exists or it doesn’t.
5. Fatalism. Whatever happens happens. There’s no point to getting vaccinated; you’ll get sick and die sooner or later anyway.
6. Distrust. These are experimental vaccines that haven’t been approved by the FDA yet. And even when the FDA says it’s OK, who believes them? The government and the media lie with abandon. The vaccines are also being pushed by corporations that just want to make as much money as they can.
Efforts to persuade people to drop their resistance to the vaccines need to begin by listening to them and communicating with them where they are.