A “deradicalisation” programme like those given to former terrorists or cult members might be the only way to dissuade some hardcore antivaxxers from their beliefs, according to one psychology expert.
Around six million eligible people in the UK have not received a single jab a year on from the first Covid vaccination being given in the UK.
Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, chair in cognitive psychology at the University of Bristol, was keen to stress that many of those are likely to be “marginalised” people who are “very difficult to reach for anything”, and for whom access is likely to be the biggest issue rather than psychological or ideological factors.
But for a small section of “hardcore refuseniks”, he said, it may be difficult to reach them by conventional means because their beliefs are so ingrained.
He told the PA news agency: “They’ll refuse anything – ‘I’m not going to wear a mask’, ‘I’m not going to get vaccinated’, ‘I don’t think climate change is happening’, ‘Covid is a hoax’, and, you know, ‘Hillary Clinton is actually a reptilian shapeshifter’.
“You’re getting to people who hold a cluster of very exotic beliefs – now, they’re very difficult to reach.”