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How omission bias affects how people make decisions about getting vaccinated

A 6 year old child receives the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 Vaccine for 5-11 year old kids at Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut on Nov. 2, 2021. (Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images)
A 6 year old child receives the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 Vaccine for 5-11 year old kids at Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut on Nov. 2, 2021. (Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images)

Human beings are not always good at assessing risk and making rational decisions.

A Kaiser Family Foundation poll from late October — just before the COVID-19 vaccine was authorized for children 5 to 11 — found that about 30% of parents said they would wait to see how the vaccine is working in young children before they got their kids vaccinated. And about 30% of parents said they don’t plan to get their 5 to 11-year-olds vaccinated against COVID-19 at all.

One reason for this hesitancy has to do with omission bias — deciding to do not do something even though that comes with as much or even more risk than deciding to act comes with.

Here & Now‘s Scott Tong talks to Gretchen Chapman, head of the department of social and decision sciences at Carnegie Mellon University, about omission bias and how we make decisions and weigh risks.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.