Today, new polling data from a survey of more that 5,000 Americans across all 50 states offers a remarkable picture of the populations that are either ill-at-ease or actively opposed to Covid vaccination. First the good news: The poll, conducted for the Public Religion Research Institute and the Interfaith Youth Core, finds that 58 percent of Americans are either already vaccinated or committed to getting their shots. Another 19 percent are in the “wait-and-see” camp wishing to see “how the COVID-19 vaccines are working for others” before getting their own.
But that leaves nearly a quarter of Americans who are vaccine resistant, saying they will only get a shot if they are mandated to do so (9 percent), or who will outright refuse a vaccine (14 percent).
The vaccine refusal population is mixed.Unsurprisingly, vaccine refusal has extraordinarily high overlap with belief in the discredited QAnon conspiracy theory, which still has a grip on about 13 percent of the country. The poll found that 38 percent of refusers are “generally agreeable to QAnon theories” — including that the U.S. is controlled by a cabal of “Satan worshiping pedophiles who run a global sex-trafficking operation.” For more on the intersection between QAnon and the antivax movement, read Rolling Stone‘s deep-dive investigation: How the Anti-Vaxxers Got Red-Pilled.
Politically, Republicans lead the refuser pack: 23 percent say they won’t get vaccinated, compared to 13 percent of independents and 6 percent of Democrats. Among Republicans the highest resistance comes from watchers of far-right television like NewsMax and One America News Network (31 percent) or those who don’t get their news from TV at all (36 percent). FoxNews watchers are, counter-intuitively, a bit less resistant than average: 16 percent.
In an American health system riven by racism — black mothers die of childbirth complications at nearly three times the rate of their white counterparts — it’s no shock that people of color also comprise a significant percentage of vaccine refusers. The poll found that nearly one-in-five of both multiracial and Black Americans say they won’t get vaccinated, in contrast to 15 percent of whites and 11 percent of respondents classified as Hispanic. It’s interesting to note, however, that these differences largely disappear among college-educated Americans, dropping to less than 10 percent regardless of race, according to the poll.
Among religious groups, white evangelicals are significantly more likely to be vaccine refusers, with 26 percent declaring they won’t get a shot. Precisely this same percentage of white evangelicals also agree with the statement: “God always rewards those who have faith with good health and will protect them from being infected with COVID-19.” (Only religious Hispanics, both Catholics and Protestants, polled higher on this question, at 35 percent.)