AP Poll: Most unvaccinated Americans don’t want shots
Vaccine hesitancy remains even as COVID- 19 numbers escalate
[email protected] Most Americans who haven’t been vaccinated against COVID-19 say they are unlikely to get the shots and doubt they would work against the aggressive delta variant despite evidence they do, according to a poll conducted last week by the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
Even with rapidly increasing case numbers in several states, including Arkansas, among American adults who have not yet received a vaccine, 35 percent say they probably will not, and 45 percent say they definitely will not. Just 3 percent say they definitely will get the shots, though another 16 percent say they probably will.
What’s more, 64 percent of unvaccinated Americans have little to no confidence the shots are effective against variants – including the delta variant that officials say is responsible for 83 percent of new cases in the U.S. – despite evidence that they offer strong protection. In contrast, 86 percent of those who have already been vaccinated have at least some confidence that the vaccines will work.
That means “that there will be more preventable cases, more preventable hospitalizations and more preventable deaths,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins University.
Health officials are calling the current surge “a pandemic of the unvaccinated” because nearly all hospital admissions and deaths have been among those who weren’t immunized.
COVID-19 cases have nearly tripled in the U.S.
over the past two weeks.
Nationally, 56.4 percent of all Americans, including children, have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the CDC. Reports say vaccinations are beginning to increase in some states where rates are lagging behind and COVID-19 cases are rising, including in Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri and Nevada.
Still, just over 44 percent of Arkansas’s population has received at least one dose, and the state reported 1,860 new COVID-19 cases Friday – the fifthhighest single-day figure of 2021 (2,552 new cases were reported last Tuesday). Hospitalizations also rose steeply over the last month.
The survey found that the majority of Americans – 54 percent – are at least somewhat concerned that they or someone in their family will be infected, including 27 percent who are very concerned. That’s up slightly from a month ago, but far below the beginning of the year, when about 7 in 10 Americans said they were at least somewhat concerned that they or someone they knew would be infected.
Views are also divided along age and education lines: Thirty-seven percent of those under age 45 say they haven’t and likely won’t get the shots, compared with just 16 percent of those older. And those without college degrees are more likely than those with them to say they aren’t and won’t be vaccinated, 30 percent to 18%.
How President Joe Biden has handled the pandemic response is reflected in the poll’s findings. A large majority of Americans, 66 percent, continue to approve of how Biden is handling the pandemic – higher than Biden’s overall approval rating of 59%.
Dr. Howard Koh, a professor at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health, said vaccine hesitancy is not new, but the misinformation surrounding COVID-19 and the fastspreading variant make it imperative to reach people one-on-one to understand their concerns and provide accurate information.
He called the new surge in infections and deaths “just heartbreaking.”
The AP-NORC poll of 1,308 adults was conducted July 15-19 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability- based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.
Here in Crittenden County, case numbers are also surging despite a steep drop in testing. As of Friday, there were 87 active cases in the county (up 10 since Thursday), for a cumulative total of 6,297 cases since the start of the pandemic, including 97 deaths related to COVID-19.