The Republican Pandemic of the Unvaccinated Rages On
Nearly 40% of Republicans are still hesitant about getting the Covid-19 vaccine or refuse to get it, a new Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI)/Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) poll finds. Allison Durkee of Forbes crunches the numbers on the Republican pandemic of the unvaccinated.
71% of poll respondents in the PRRI survey said they’re either vaccinated or will get the shot as soon as possible, up from 58% in March. A further 15% are hesitant about the shot and say they’ll “wait and see how [it’s] working for others” or only get it if they have to (10% and 5%, respectively), while 13% of all respondents refuse to get vaccinated entirely.
The Republican Pandemic of the Unvaccinated
The poll, conducted June 7-23 among 5,123 U.S. adults, found 64% of Republican respondents are Covid-19 “vaccine accepters” who have been or plan to get vaccinated—up from 45% in March—while 18% are hesitant about getting inoculated and 19% refuse the shot (down from 32% and 23% in March, respectively).
Though the PRRI showed a large increase in Republicans’ support for the vaccine—their vaccine acceptance increased by 18 percentage points between March and June, more than among Democrats or Independents—other polling has not shown similar progress. A recent Morning Consult poll found the percentage of Republicans who said they’re unwilling to get vaccinated is still unchanged from mid-March, with 28% both then and now refusing the vaccine.
A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America found vaccine endorsements from Republican Party “elites”—in this case, former President Donald Trump—made unvaccinated Republicans 5.7% more likely to signal their intention to get vaccinated than if they hadn’t seen any endorsements, or 7% more likely to signal their vaccination intentions than if they saw an endorsement from President Joe Biden.
The Right Wing Media Effect Fuels the Republican Pandemic of the Unvaccinated
The most likely group to refuse the Covid-19 vaccine are Republicans who consume far-right television news (46%, up from 31% in March), while 8% of those viewers are hesitant about the shot (down from 37% in March) and 45% accept it (up from 32% in March).
Republicans who don’t consume any television news at all were more likely to reject the Covid-19 vaccine than those who watch Fox News: Only 53% of non-news viewers accept the vaccine and 24% reject it (23% are hesitant), versus 63% of Fox viewers who accept the vaccine, and 18% each who reject it and are hesitant.
The “Q” Factor
Believers in the QAnon conspiracy—that “the government, media, and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex-trafficking operation”—were significantly more likely to oppose the vaccine than those who doubt or reject QAnon: 37% of QAnon believers reject the Covid-19 vaccine (45% accept it), versus 15% of those who doubt QAnon and 5% of those who reject the conspiracy.
The Republicans who are most likely to get vaccinated are those who reject the QAnon conspiracy theory and those who consume mainstream news, with 79% and 77% of those groups identifying as “vaccine accepters,” respectively.
Across religious groups, the PRRI survey found most religious groups are largely in favor of the Covid-19 vaccine—with large increases recorded since the poll was last conducted in March—and the only religious groups that registered less than 60% support for the vaccine are white evangelical Protestants and Hispanic Protestants (both at 56% acceptance). Jewish Americans, by contrast, are the most in favor of the vaccine, with 85% saying they’ve been vaccinated or would get inoculated as soon as possible.
The PRRI survey suggested religion could play a role in encouraging more Americans who are opposed to or hesitant about the shot to get vaccinated. The poll found 19% of vaccine refusers think faith-based approaches would help encourage them to get vaccinated—such as appeals from trusted faith leaders or communities, or making vaccines available at places of worship—as well as 32% of white evangelical Protestants who regularly attend church services and are hesitant about the vaccine.
Republicans who are white evangelical Protestants were more likely to be against the vaccine than those of other religions, with 55% accepting the vaccine versus 67% from other religions, while 24% of evangelicals refused the shot and 21% are hesitant about it (versus 16% and 17% for other religions, respectively).