COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Although millions are lining up to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, opinions remain varied. Many view the vaccine as a saving grace that will deliver the world from the seemingly never-ending pandemic nightmare. Others, however, prescribe to more conspiracy-centric beliefs. Researchers from Texas A&M University surveyed 5,000 people and find nearly a third of Americans do not plan on getting the vaccination once it becomes available to them.
In total, 31.1 percent of the poll say they have no plans to get the shot right away. Moreover, the results find African-Americans, women, and conservatives are more likely to refuse the COVID-19 vaccine and not trust that it is safe. Statistically, females are a staggering 71 percent more likely to refuse the vaccine and African-Americans are 41 percent more likely to do the same.
Politics play a role in COVID vaccine confidence
The survey also reveals that politics play a big role in one’s vaccination beliefs. For each one-point increase in conservatism, a respondent’s odds of saying they’ll refuse the vaccine increased by 18 percent. The survey was conducted in mid-2020, before the presidential election.
At that time, the survey finds Americans planning to vote for Donald Trump were 29 percent more likely to not trust the vaccine and refuse vaccination.
As far as why so many are skeptical about the vaccine, two main reasons kept coming up among respondents. Americans say safety concerns and skepticism regarding the shot’s effectiveness are key in their decision. That being said, reasons varied quite a bit across different demographics. For example, most women are hesitant to get the COVID vaccine because of safety concerns. African-Americans, on the other hand, are also concerned about safety but say lack of adequate funds and health insurance are also why they plan to forgo vaccination. Meanwhile, researchers say conservatives have been skeptical about many vaccines for a number of years.
Anti-vax messages aimed at African Americans?
Study leader Timothy Callaghan, assistant professor at the Texas A&M University School of Public Health, says he was most surprised to see so many African-Americans planning on skipping the vaccine. Black Americans have been hospitalized and are passing way due to COVID-19 at much higher rates than Caucasians.
“This points to the need for the medical community and policymakers to find ways to both build trust in the vaccine in the African American community and to ensure that it is delivered affordably,” Callaghan says in a university release.
On a worrying note, the study author note many anti-vaccination groups have been specifically targeting Black Americans. Researchers say it is of utmost importance to start reaching out to these skeptical demographics with positive COVID-19 vaccine messaging.
The study is published in Social Science & Medicine.