Vaccine Hesitancy Among the Politically Unaffiliated

Or perhaps it should be called ‘hesitancy.’ This, by Harry Enten, is going to sound depressingly familiar to anyone who has tried to get people to vote (boldface mine):

A look at the data reveals that the vaccine hesitant group, however, are not big Trump lovers. They’re actually likely not to be Republican. Instead, many of them are people who are detached from the political process and didn’t vote for either major candidate in 2020.

The most recent Kaiser poll helps illustrate that the vaccine hesitant group doesn’t really lean Republican. Just 20% of the group called themselves Republican with an additional 19% being independents who leaned Republican. The clear majority (61%) were not Republicans (41% said they were Democrats or Democratic leaning independents and 20% were either pure independents or undesignated).

This is very much unlike the vaccine resistant group, of whom 55% are Republican or Republican leaning independents…

The overwhelming plurality (48%) were people who either didn’t vote, voted third party or weren’t willing to disclose who they cast a ballot for. The rest were split 31% for Trump and 20% for President Joe Biden.
The poll gets at the fact that the efforts to vaccinate the population isn’t a political campaign to reel in voters. If we use traditional election tactics to reach the vaccine hesitant group, we’re likely to lose…

People who are not registered to vote are among the most likely to say they’re in the wait-and-see camp. In a Monmouth University poll last month, 34% of adults who were not registered to vote said they wanted to “see how it goes” (i.e. wait-and-see) before getting a vaccine. That was significantly higher than the 10% of registered voters who said the same…

The people who are vaccine hesitant are not old. The clear majority (about 60% to 70%, depending on the poll) are younger than 50. These are largely not going to be people who watch cable news.

I was going to suggest how we get at this problem, but found that James Joyner made it better, so I’ll outsource it to him (boldface mine):

Younger people tend to care less about politics because they have less [obviously] at stake.* As people get older, they pay more in taxes, buy homes, have children, and otherwise have more reason to care about what the government does. And the elderly get Social Security and Medicare, so they interact with the federal government routinely.

And, as far as COVID-19 goes, younger people are, all things equal, less likely to suffer severe symptoms if they contract the disease….

I still think the key is to make being vaccinated more obviously beneficial through vaccine passports or other methods to allow those who do their civic duty to more easily participate in public activities than those who refuse.

I still think, at this time, we should be emphasizing the carrot. But in a couple of months, we really need to start thinking more about the stick: some people will need some incentive to go get vaccinated, and, unfortunately, it will have to be, in part, what one loses by not being vaccinated.

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2 Responses to Vaccine Hesitancy Among the Politically Unaffiliated

  1. Mike says:

    The CDC has given us more choice so that they can study the implications:
    Group 1 – Unvaccinated, does not wear masks
    Group 2 – Unvaccinated, does wear masks
    Group 3 – Vaccinated, does not wear masks
    Group 4 – Vaccinated, does wear masks

    If you look at the CDC website, their are plenty of reasons to continue to wear masks even if vaccinated (e.g., protection from variants, transmission to others, length of vaccine efficacy). The people who are hesitant about the vaccine are two steps behind. Additionally, do the “hesitant” wear masks? If you don’t wear masks and don’t get vaccinated because you are “hesitant” shouldn’t they be renamed to reckless or something?

  2. Pingback: Vaccination in D.C. Is Not Going Well as We Would Think | Mike the Mad Biologist

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