Poll Reveals Who’s Most Vaccine-Hesitant in America and Why

By Cara Murez
HealthDay reporter

THURSDAY, April 29, 2021 (HealthDay News) – The resistance in the United States to getting a COVID-19 vaccine is slowly diminishing, according to a new online survey, but it still exists and especially in some blue-collar jobs.

For hesitant adults under 65, the reluctance is primarily driven by concerns about safety, side effects and mistrust of the government, the poll found. It is also largely related to the line of work of the people.

The Bottom Line: “Vaccine reluctance is emerging as a major obstacle to ending the COVID-19 pandemic,” said lead author Wendy King, associate professor of epidemiology at the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh.

Identifying occupations with a high rate of vaccine hesitancy and understanding the reasons could help public health officials address concerns, she said.

“Our study indicates that messages about COVID-19 vaccine safety and trust are paramount,” King said in an academic press release.

King and researchers from the Delphi Group at neighboring Carnegie Mellon University analyzed the results of his ongoing COVID-19 investigation in collaboration with the Facebook Data for Good group. About 1.2 million U.S. residents of Facebook’s active user database complete the survey each month.

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In January, the survey added a question about willingness to receive the vaccine.

This study was limited to working-age adults because outbreaks in the workplace and the spread of infection from workers to clients pose threats to public health. Many working-age adults are also more reluctant to get the vaccine than older Americans.

As resistance persists, there has been encouraging news: vaccine reluctance has fallen from 27.5% in January to 22% in March, according to the survey.

The March survey included 732,308 people (median age: 35 to 44, meaning half were older, half younger). About 45% were men, 77% had a college education, and 64% were Caucasian.

Almost 48% of those who reported reluctance to vaccinate expressed concerns about side effects. More than a third thought they didn’t need the vaccine, didn’t trust the government, waited to see if the vaccine was safe, or didn’t specifically trust the COVID-19 vaccines. And 14.5% said they didn’t like vaccines in general.

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Workers in some occupations were more reluctant than others to take the hit. Reluctance ranged from 9.6% among educators and those in the life sciences, physical or social sciences to a high of 46% among workers in construction, oil and gas extraction, and mining. Reluctance was almost as high among workers in installation, maintenance, repair, agriculture, fishing or forestry.

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In healthcare, pharmacists are the least hesitant at 8.5%. The highest hesitation, 20.5%, was among medical assistants, emergency medical technicians and orderlies, nurses, psychiatric or personal.

“The survey expanded to collect data on symptoms, disease, treatment, testing, behaviors such as masking and estrangement, and mental health,” said lead author Robin Mejia , of Carnegie Mellon’s Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences. “And it continues to evolve as new policy questions arise.”

The results of the survey were published on April 24 on the pre-print server medRxiv and have not been peer reviewed.

More information

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more information on COVID-19 and vaccinations.

SOURCE: University of Pittsburgh, press release, April 28, 2021

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