When we talk about vaccine hesitancy, we need to make 3 big foundational statements:
👉 1. There is a spectrum – Vaccine hesitancy can range from a little fear but you’ll still get it…to I’m going to wait and see…to nope, not ever…and, finally to anti-vax (which really is a different category entirely). So, keep this spectrum in mind with today’s post.
👉 2. I’m an epidemiologist. So, we deal with GROUPS of data. I will be talking about categories of people like republicans versus democrats, older adults versus younger, etc. These categories are really helpful to look at who is vaccine hesitant and why. But, it’s easy to say, “Well, I’m a republican and that’s not me” or “I’m a young college student and that data doesn’t fit me.”. There’s always outliers to the data when we categorize. BUT, the categories show important trends to pay attention to. It doesn’t mean ALL young people are hesitant or ALL republicans are worried about vaccine requirements. It does, however, show trends.
👉 3. This is why you’ll need to “think like an epidemiologist today”. Think population level rather than individual level. Ok, here we go…
𝐕𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐡𝐞𝐬𝐢𝐭𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐲 𝐡𝐚𝐬 𝐝𝐞𝐜𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐞𝐝 𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐃𝐞𝐜𝐞𝐦𝐛𝐞𝐫 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟎. 𝐈𝐧 𝐃𝐞𝐜𝐞𝐦𝐛𝐞𝐫, 𝟔𝟑% 𝐨𝐟 𝐩𝐞𝐨𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐠𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐨 𝐰𝐚𝐢𝐭 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐬𝐞𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐠𝐞𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐯𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐢𝐧𝐞, 𝐠𝐞𝐭 𝐚 𝐯𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐨𝐧𝐥𝐲 𝐢𝐟 𝐫𝐞𝐪𝐮𝐢𝐫𝐞𝐝, 𝐨𝐫 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐠𝐞𝐭 𝐢𝐭 𝐚𝐭 𝐚𝐥𝐥. 𝐈𝐧 𝐌𝐚𝐫𝐜𝐡 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟏, 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐧𝐮𝐦𝐛𝐞𝐫 𝐬𝐡𝐫𝐮𝐧𝐤 𝐭𝐨 𝟑𝟕%. 𝐖𝐨𝐨𝐡𝐨𝐨!
𝐇𝐎𝐖𝐄𝐕𝐄𝐑, 𝐚𝐬 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐬 𝐢𝐧 𝐞𝐩𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐦𝐢𝐨𝐥𝐨𝐠𝐲 𝐰𝐞 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐥𝐨𝐨𝐤 𝐈𝐍𝐒𝐈𝐃𝐄 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐝𝐚𝐭𝐚 𝐭𝐨 𝐬𝐞𝐞 𝐢𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐝 𝐡𝐨𝐥𝐝𝐬 𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐠𝐫𝐨𝐮𝐩𝐬.
It doesn’t. Let’s look at it.
✅ The top-two groups most likely to NOT get the vaccine are Republicans (29%) and White Evangelical Christians (28%). There’s likely a lot of overlap between those groups, so it’s not necessarily surprising. – What is surprising? That percentage of 28-29% is DOUBLE any other group surveyed with the exception of rural residents and essential workers (non-healthcare). DOUBLE.
✅ All other groups said they would get vaccinated ASAP by large percentage points (1 in 3ish). For example, only 14% White Evangelical Christians said they would get vaccinated ASAP, while all other groups (with the exception of rural residents and republicans) were double or more than double those percentages.
✅ So, what are the main reasons contributing to vaccine hesitancy? The main reason is worry about side effects, worry that the vaccine effects might be worse than getting COVID-19, and worry that you have to get the vaccine even if you don’t want to. These main reasons were consistent when the data was stratified by Black, Hispanic, and White respondents.
✅ However, the data looked different when we stratified by political party. 71% of Republicans said they were very or somewhat concerned about being required to get a COVID-19 vaccine even if they don’t want to; compared to 58% of Independents and 51% of Democrats.
✅ Why does this all matter? – Let’s look at white evangelical Christian adults in the US. Here are 41 million people who identify as that group. From today’s data, 28% said they would NOT get the vaccine – that’s equal to 11.5 million people. This definitely disrupts our attempt at herd immunity if we add all the groups who are hesitant up.-
It also matters to know why people are hesitant – there’s quite a bit of worry about side effects, etc. I (along with lots of others) have written about that. I answer TONS of questions related to the vaccine not causing infertility, not using fetal cells, not having the scary-side-effects you see on viral videos, ingredients, etc. I’ll include that data here –
✅ To not make this post super long, I’m going to talk about reasons for hesitancy among the main groups later. But, the data is out on the groups we need to help build trust in the vaccines.
There’s SO much misinformation and disinformation out there about the vaccines, especially among Republican and Christian circles. I’ll talk about that in my next post.
March 2021 survey findings: