Nearly 16% of Couples Disagree About COVID-19 Vaccination


The first study of COVID-19 vaccination status among romantic couples found 15.63% were in disagreement over whether to receive the vaccine.

The vast majority of couples are in agreement about whether to get the COVID-19 vaccine. However, 15.63% of relationships were discordant, with 1 vaccinated partner and 1 unvaccinated partner.

The proportion of romantic couples that disagree over whether to receive the COVID-19 vaccine is small but statistically significant, at just under 16%.

A survey study, published in Vaccine, determined the frequency intimate couples had contrasting vaccine opinions. Couples were categorized as either concordant, with both partners choosing either to get vaccinated or remain unvaccinated, or discordant, with 1 partner vaccinated and 1 partner unvaccinated.

The Washington State University research team noted that only 20% of adults over the age of 40 have never been in a romantic relationship. Thus, the investigators wanted to explore couple concordance regarding a topic as relevant and polarizing as COVID-19 vaccination. The study examined the percentage of COVID-19 concordance and discordance, as well as the reasons for being unvaccinated among discordant couples.

The online survey included 1305 respondents who lived with their partners. Participants completed at least 100 Human Intelligence Tasks (HITs) via the Mechanical Turk (MTurk) data quality platform. Data were collected using Qualtrics throughout the month of October 2021.

To be included, participants had to be 18 years or older, in an intimate romantic relationship for at least 6 months, and living with their partner. COVID-19 vaccines were made available to all US adults by April 19, 2021, so the 6-month relationship requirement ensured all included couples had the option to be vaccinated. US Potential participants were asked a series of questions regarding their age and relationship status to prevent them from deducing the inclusion criteria.

Participants who met these criteria reported both their and their partner’s COVID-19 vaccination status as both vaccinated, both unvaccinated, or 1 partner vaccinated and 1 unvaccinated. Participants were considered “vaccinated” if they had received 1 or more COVID-19 vaccine dose. Finally, participants in vaccination discordance with their partner reported reasons for being unvaccinated and provided demographic information.

The investigators performed multivariable logistic regression to identify reasons for not getting vaccinated in the discordant couples. They found 84.37% of couples were vaccine concordant, with 63.28% both vaccinated and 21.09% both unvaccinated. Of the 15.63% vaccine discordant couples, 9.55% of respondents said they were vaccinated but their partner was not, and 6.08% said they were unvaccinated but their partner had received a COVID-19 vaccine.

The average participant age was 39.07 years, and 56.02% of the respondents were female. At 93.19%, the vast majority of couples included in the study were heterosexual, and 79.58% were non-Hispanic White.

Concerns regarding the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine was given as the most important reason for not getting vaccinated. Interestingly, unvaccinated respondents reported lack of knowledge about the vaccines as the second most important reason for not getting vaccinated. Vaccinated respondents, however, ranked lack of vaccine necessity as the second most important reason their partner was unvaccinated.

This study was the first to report COVID-19 vaccination status among couples. Interestingly, most discordant couples ranked their partner’s reasons for remaining unvaccinated differently than the unvaccinated respondents reported their own reasons.

The relatively low proportion of discordant couples indicates seeing eye-to-eye on COVID-19 vaccination is important in romantic relationships.

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