The vaccine skeptical and the vaccine not yet

Good stuff from Gallup on the latest on vaccine attitudes:

Seventy-six percent of U.S. adults say they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or plan to be, a number that has been stable over the past three months but is higher than in late 2020 and early 2021.

Line graph. Seventy-six percent of U.S. adults in May 2021 have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or plan to be, similar to the 75% and 74% measured in April and March, respectively. When Gallup first asked the question in July 2020, 65% planned to get vaccinated, which dropped to 50% in September before recovering by December…

Gallup’s data suggest the ceiling on vaccination could be about 80% of U.S. adults. That would include the 76% who are already vaccinated or plan to be plus the 5% who do not plan to get vaccinated but say they are at least somewhat likely to change their mind…

As of the May 18-23 survey, 60% of U.S. adults report they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, 4% have been partially vaccinated, 12% plan to be vaccinated and 24% do not plan to be vaccinated.

Among those not planning to be vaccinated, 78% say they are unlikely to reconsider their plans, including 51% who say they are “not likely at all” to change their mind and get vaccinated. That leaves one in five vaccine-reluctant adults open to reconsidering, with 2% saying they are very likely and 19% saying they are somewhat likely to change their mind and get vaccinated — equivalent to 5% of all U.S. adults…

The one in four vaccine-reluctant adults are not distributed equally across major demographic groups:

  • About half of Republicans, 46%, compared with 31% of independents and 6% of Democrats, do not plan to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

  • Americans without a college degree are much more likely than college graduates to be vaccine-hesitant, 31% to 12%.

  • Vaccine hesitancy is more common among middle-aged Americans (33% of those between the ages of 35 and 54) than among younger (22%) and older Americans (20%).

Meanwhile, it surely is related to these other demographics, but an important part of the variation is regional:

Experts are concerned that states across the South, where vaccination rates are lagging, could face a surge in coronavirus cases over the summer.

A dozen states — many of them in the Northeast, including Maine, Massachusetts and Connecticut — have already reached a benchmark of at least 70 percent of adults with at least one vaccine dose, a goal President Biden has set for the nation to make by July 4. But in the South, that marker is nowhere in sight for several states.

In 15 states — including Arkansas, the Carolinas, Georgia and Louisiana — about half of adults or fewer have received a dose, according to a New York Times analysis. In two states, Alabama and Mississippi, it would take about a year to get one dose to 70 percent of the population at the current pace of distribution.

Public-health experts and officials in states with lower vaccination rates say the president’s benchmark will help reduce cases and deaths but is somewhat arbitrary — even if 70 percent of adults are vaccinated, the virus and its more contagious variants can spread among those who are not.

Ugh, yes, Carolinas, not just our retrograde neighbor to the South.  

One thing I would love to read more about is the people who express a clear intent to get the vaccine, but have not yet.  One thing we should definitely be figuring out is how to get these people vaccinated as soon as possible.  If they were truly low-hanging fruit, they’d already be vaccinated, but, they are presumably at least medium-hanging fruit that we need to figure out why they haven’t been vaccinated yet, despite their intent, and how to make it easier for them.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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