Abstract

Context: In 2021, French health authorities strongly promoted the vaccination against Covid-19. We assumed that refusing this vaccine became a ‘stigma’, and we investigated potential ‘public stigma’ toward unvaccinated people among the French population.

Methods: A representative sample of the French adult population (N = 2,015) completed an online questionnaire in September 2021. We focused on participants who were already vaccinated against Covid-19, or intended to get vaccinated (N = 1,742). A cluster analysis was used to obtain contrasted attitudinal profiles, and we investigated associated factors with logistic regressions.

Findings: Regarding attitudes toward unvaccinated people, several pejorative statements were supported by a majority of respondents, and a significant minority also endorsed social rejection attitudes. We found four contrasted attitudinal profiles: Moral condemnation only (32% of respondents), Full stigma (26%), No stigma (26%) and Stigma rejection (16%). Early vaccination, civic motives for it, faith in science, rejection of political extremes and being 65 or over were the main factors of stigmatizing attitudes toward unvaccinated people.

Conclusions: We found some evidence of stigmatization toward unvaccinated people, but further research is needed, especially to investigate perceived stigmatization among them. We discussed our results in reference with the concept of ‘Folk Devils’, and from a public health perspective.

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