Why are Americans still unsure about Covid-19 vaccine? Rural residents among most hesitant to get shots: Poll

About a third or 35% of Americans living in rural areas say they probably or definitely would not get a Covid-19 shot, compared to about a quarter of suburban (27%) and urban residents (26%)


                            Why are Americans still unsure about Covid-19 vaccine? Rural residents among most hesitant to get shots: Poll
(Getty Images)

An estimated 6,688,231 people in the US have been vaccinated against Covid-19, according to data collated by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) till January 8, 2021. A new analysis, however, finds that residents of rural America stand out as one of the groups most hesitant to get a coronavirus vaccine and that their views about the pandemic could pose significant challenges for the nation’s mass vaccination effort. 

About a third or 35% of Americans living in rural areas say they probably or definitely would not get a Covid-19 shot that had been deemed safe and effective and was available for free, compared to about a quarter of suburban (27%) and urban residents (26%) who say the same, reveals a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). Overall, 27% told researchers they will “probably not get it (12%),” or “definitely not get it (15%).” 

“Rural residents are among the most vaccine hesitant groups, along with Republicans, individuals 30-49 years old, and Black adults. Three in 10 (31%) people in rural areas say they will “definitely get” the vaccine, compared to four in 10 people in urban areas (42%) and suburban areas (43%). An additional one-third of people in rural areas say they will “probably get it” while 35% say they will either “probably not get it” (15%) or “definitely not get it” (20%),” suggest results published on January 7. 

Smaller shares of rural US residents say they will definitely get a Covid-19 shot (KFF)

The KFF Covid-19 vaccine monitor is an ongoing project tracking the public’s attitudes and experiences with coronavirus vaccinations. It was conducted among a nationally representative sample of 1,676 adults ages 18 and older living in the US, including Alaska and Hawaii. 

Many factors are associated with a person’s willingness to get vaccinated, including their age, level of education, and, notably, political party identification. Republicans, for example, are much less likely to say they will get a coronavirus vaccine compared to Democrats and independents. But even after controlling for these factors, people in rural areas are more likely to be vaccine-hesitant than suburban and urban residents. This, in part, may reflect rural residents’ views of the pandemic, note researchers. 

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized two vaccines for emergency use, one from Pfizer and the second from Moderna. The total number of doses distributed nationwide as of January 7 is 22,137,350. 

22,137,350 vaccination doses have been distributed so far across the US (Getty Images)

The poll, meanwhile, shows that rural residents are just as likely as others to say they know someone who has tested positive or died from coronavirus. But about four in ten (39%) rural residents say they are not worried that they or someone in their family will get sick from Covid-19 compared to 23% of urban residents and three in 10 (30%) suburban residents.

Half (50%) say they believe the threat COVID-19 poses has been “generally exaggerated,” a belief held by fewer urban (27%) and suburban (37%) residents. A large majority of rural residents (62%) say that getting vaccinated is mostly a personal choice rather than part of everyone’s responsibility to protect the health of others (36%). In contrast, most urban residents (55%) and nearly half of suburban residents (47%) view getting vaccinated as part of everyone’s responsibility.

More rural residents believe coronavirus severity is exaggerated (KFF)

Similar to urban and suburban residents, many rural residents (86%) say that they would trust vaccine information from their own doctor or health care providers. Smaller shares say they trust the FDA (68%), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC (66%), their local public health department (64%), infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci (59%), or state government officials (55%). 

“Vaccine hesitancy among rural residents is more than just partisanship and is strongly connected to their views of the severity of the coronavirus and the reasons for getting vaccinated. Effective messages need to be delivered by trusted messengers and take into account these strongly held beliefs in order to have successful vaccine uptake in rural America,” recommends the team.

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