As vaccination rates continue to fall and leave the U.S. dangerously vulnerable to new outbreaks of Covid-19, polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation reveals which groups resist vaccines the most—Republicans, Evangelicals, young people lead—and why, though not all reasons stand up to scrutiny.
The KFF poll, conducted Jun. 8-21, found Republicans (52%), uninsured under 65s (48%), white Evangelical christians (58%), young people aged 18-29 (55%) and those living in rural areas (54%) to be the groups with the lowest vaccination rates.
Women (70%) are more likely to report being vaccinated than men (61%), part of a widening gender gap, while Democrats (86%), those over 65 (85%) and college graduates (79%) report the highest uptake.
Vaccinated and unvaccinated people tend to cluster together, the poll found, with around three in four vaccinated or unvaccinated adults living in houses with people of the same vaccine status, and around half of vaccinated workers reporting all or most of their colleagues to be vaccinated (this drops to 9% for unvaccinated people).
The successes of the vaccination campaign actually seem to be hindering further efforts to get people immunized, with half of unvaccinated adults believing there to be no further need for people to get vaccinated due to the low number of cases.
When asked why they had not been vaccinated, respondents listed the vaccines’ newness (20%), concerns over side effects (11%) and a distrust of the government (11%) as their main reasons, with a significant proportion just not wanting to (11%) or not believing they don’t need one (11%).
Around 31% of unvaccinated adults said they would consider getting the vaccine if it had received full FDA approval, a similar finding to a month ago, though when pressed most did not know (57%) the status of the vaccines or incorrectly believed them to already have full authorization (15%).
As workplaces begin to reopen and employers deliberate how to ensure a safe work environment, the prospect of vaccine mandates has come into sharper focus. Some employers already require vaccines, especially in healthcare, and the KFF poll highlighted mixed feelings on the matter. 51% of all workers felt employers should require employees to get vaccinated, a figure that plummets to 19% if the respondent is unvaccinated. However, people were far less enthusiastic about the idea when it concerned them, with 61% opposing the idea for their own employer.
What To Watch For
Six in ten of the unvaccinated adults who want to “wait and see” before getting vaccinated are concerned they won’t be effective against new variants of the virus. Experts believe vaccination to be more important than ever as new variants spread, especially the Delta variant on its way to dominance in the U.S., and studies show the vaccines to still be very effective at preventing symptomatic disease.
Amid declining deaths and new cases, the U.S. has almost fully reopened, despite most states being unlikely to miss President Biden’s goal of having 70% of Americans at least partially vaccinated by July 4. Incentives have been unable to provide more than a temporary reprieve to the falling vaccination rates and many states and communities with low vaccination rates are susceptible to outbreaks of Covid-19. The president’s chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, says this could lead to “two Americas,” dividing areas with high and low vaccination rates.