Could the Golden Rule sway some vaccine skeptics? A new poll points to yes | Thursday Coffee

Hesitancy is down, according to a new poll. But significant barriers still remain. 

July 29, 2021 7:01 am

(Sylvia Owusu-Ansah, an emergency department physician at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, receives Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, Mon., 12/14/20)

Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

With the Delta variant of COVID-19 surging, and the the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urging vaccinated Americans in areas of high transmission to wear masks indoors, there’s significant incentive for unvaccinated Americans to finally get the jab.

Encouragingly, new research by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) and the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) shows that vaccine hesitancy has decreased among all Americans, but significant barriers to access still remain.

Those barriers include time constraints, a concern about side effects, and a lack of access to transportation, particularly impacting young Americans and communities of color. You can read the full polling memo here.

Some key findings:

  • “Two-thirds of Americans (67 percent) report having received at least one dose of a vaccine, and another 4 percent say they will get vaccinated as soon as possible. Less than one in five (15 percent) are hesitant, a decrease from 28 percent in March, and 13 percent say they will not get vaccinated, similar to the 14 percent who said they would not get vaccinated in March.
  • “The proportion of Americans who worry that the long-term effects of the COVID-19 vaccines are unknown dropped more than 10 percentage points, from 58 percent in March to 47 percent in June,” the survey found

“Beyond hesitancy, our survey reveals that barriers to vaccine access—such as concerns about time off work or a lack of transportation or childcare—remain obstacles for many. These barriers to access disproportionately impact Black, Hispanic, and young Americans, many of whom are otherwise receptive to getting vaccinated,” PRRI CEO and founder Robert P. Jones said in a statement.

Pennsylvania ranked 5th nationwide for total doses administered, according to the most recent state Health Department data. As of Wednesday morning, 62.5 percent of all adults, aged 18 and older, were fully vaccinated. That’s still well short of the 70 percent goal that officials had been hoping to reach.

Through midday on Wednesday, the Health Department had confirmed 645 new cases of the virus, bringing the statewide total to more than 1.22 million since the start of the pandemic. Statewide, 445 people were hospitalized, with 95 of them in hospital intensive care units.

The Health Department also confirmed 7 new fatalities, bringing the statewide total to 27,838 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

For some skeptics, the new poll suggests that a faith-based approach could encourage them to get vaccinated.

Four in 10 vaccinated Hispanic protestants and three in 10 vaccinated Black protestants were more likely to say that one or more faith-based approaches convinced them to get the jab, the poll found.

Forty-four percent of Hispanic Protestants told pollsters that finding the time to to get vaccinated or deal with the possible side effects is a critical reason (22 percent) they have not been vaccinated.

More than three in 10 (31 percent) of hesitant white Catholics told pollsters that a faith-based approach could encourage them to get vaccinated, up from 15 percent earlier in the year, the poll found.

And nearly a third (32 percent) of unvaccinated white evangelical Protestants who attend services told pollsters that one or more faith-based approaches would make them more likely to get vaccinated.

All told, Hispanic Catholics made the largest gains in vaccine acceptance, rising from 56 percent in March to 80 percent in June. Nearly eight in 10 white Catholics (79 percent) also are accepters, up from 68 percent in March.

“Other non-Christians (78 percent), other Christians (77 percent), the religiously unaffiliated (75 percent), and white mainline Protestants (74 percent) are also above the 70 percent mark, with increases of 11-15 percentage points in each group,” pollsters found.

“As religious leaders work to build community trust in the COVID-19 vaccine, they should simultaneously provide services that help eliminate barriers so that all willing populations are receiving vaccinations,” Jones said.

(YouTube screen capture)

Meanwhile, political divisions over the vaccine remain as pronounced as ever.

Less than half of QAnon believers (47 percent) accept the efficacy of the vaccine, and nearly a third (32 percent) say they will not get vaccinated. But, among QAnon rejecters, 88 percent are vaccine accepters, and only 4 percent say they will not get vaccinated, the poll found.

Other key findings:

  • “Republicans remain less likely than independents or Democrats to be vaccine accepters but have increased from 45 percent accepter in March to 63 percent in June, a larger gain than independents (58 percent to 71 percent) or Democrats (73 percent to 85 percent).
  • “However, Republicans remain divided by what media they trust. Those who most trust far-right news outlets (46 percent) have become more likely than they were in March (31 percent) to refuse vaccination.
  • “Majorities of Americans without college degrees in all race and ethnic groups are vaccine accepters, whereas most were below 50% accepter in March. Black and Hispanic Americans without four-year degrees have increased most—about 20 percentage points (40 percent in March to 59 percent in June for Black Americans; 49 percent in March to 69 percent in June for Hispanic Americans).
  • “Republicans, Americans under age 50, and rural Americans remain among the most likely to be hesitant or refusers, but about one in five of those who are vaccinated in each of these groups—those under 50 (19%), Republicans (20 percent), and rural Americans (20 percent)—say one or more of these faith-based approaches helped convince them to get vaccinated,” the poll found.

To reach their findings, PRRI and IFYC sampled the opinions of 5,123 adults aged 18 and older. Interviews were conducted from June 7 and 23. The sample included 1,733 Republicans, 1,716 independents, and 1,936 Democrats, with a total margin of error of 1.65 percent.

The Pennsylvania Capitol building. (Capital-Star photo by Sarah Anne Hughes)

Our Stuff.
President Joe Biden visited a Mack Truck assembly plant in suburban Allentown on Wednesday to tout his plan to bolster American manufacturing and to provide well-paying jobs for American workers, Lindsay Weber reports.

Even though he’s still waiting on Philadelphia County to respond to a sweeping request for equipment used in the 2020 and 2021 primary elections, the Republican state lawmaker who’s backing a “forensic investigation” of the results said it’s not a question of if his Senate committee will subpoena information — but whenMarley Parish reports.

Three national watchdog groups filed campaign finance complaints in more than a dozen states Monday, including Pennsylvania, against the American Legislative Exchange Council, the nonprofit organization that drafts model legislation for Republicans lawmakers, alleging improper use of its nonprofit status, Cassie Miller reports.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney says he won’t mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for city workers – but he won’t rule it out either, our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune report.

What can Pennsylvania learn from a Washington State community’s transition away from fossil fuels? Our partners at Pittsburgh City Paper went looking for answers, and found them in a pair of new reports.

On our Commentary Page this morning, a quintet of experts from across the country write that when Americans recall their roots, they open up to immigration. And frequent contributor John A. Tures has some ideas on how churches facing dwindling membership can fill up the pews — hint, it has something to do with fishing.

(Image via The Philadelphia Tribune)

A reliance on guns has become commonplace for some Black men and teens in Philadelphia, the Inquirer reports.

Officials in Allegheny County haven’t ruled out a local mask mandate, the Tribune-Review reports.

An advisory panel will recommend that Pennsylvania move to a mileage-based user fee to replace the gas tax and fund its transportation needs, PennLive reports.

The Morning Call has four takeaways from President Joe Biden’s visit to the Lehigh Valley on Wednesday.

School superintendents in Luzerne County will meet Thursday to talk about local mask mandates, the Citizens’ Voice reports.

Unemployment fraud is on the rise in the Keystone StateUSA Today’s Pennsylvania Capital Bureau has what you need to know.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has urged city residents to apply for emergency aid before the federal eviction moratorium expires on Saturday, WHYY-FM reports.

Amtrak is looking to add daytime trains to Erie, GoErie reports (paywall).

The House State Government Committee will launch a review of state ethics law following the arrest and resignation of former state Rep. Margo Davidson, D-Delaware, City & State Pa. reports. takes a look at efforts by Republican lawmakers nationwide to rein in the powers of local elections officials.

Here’s your #Pennsylvania Instagram of the Day:

What Goes On
2 p.m.: Health Secretary Alison Beam and acting Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson hold an online event to urge Pennsylvanians to get vaccinated. You can watch it here or here.

Gov. Tom Wolf has no public schedule today.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to PennLive Opinion Page Editor Joyce Davis, and my old high school hockey line mate, Hank Butler, at the Pennsylvania Jewish Federation, both of whom celebrate today. Congratulations and enjoy the day.

Heavy Rotation
Here’s one from The Head and The Heart to start your Thursday morning, it’s ‘Missed Connection.’

Thursday’s Gratuitous Baseball Link
Baltimore balanced the scales against the Marlins on Wednesday night, winning 8-7.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.