Vaccine refusal continues for younger individuals who identify as conservative

KELOLAND.com Original
Vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine

FILE – Vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine sit in a cooler before being thawed at a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination site. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Although the COVID-19 booster should be available soon for all fully-vaccinated adults, the chances that some groups of people will get the booster aren’t very high since they aren’t even fully vaccinated.

About 59% of eligible individuals 12 and older are fully vaccinated in South Dakota, according to South Dakota Department of Health.

According to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) report, 27% of U.S. adults are not yet vaccinated.

Vaccine hesitancy has been the subject of several studies and surveys including a COVID-19 tracking project report shared in September from partners Northeastern University, Northwestern University, Rutgers and Harvard. The partners surveyed 20,669 individuals from all 50 states and the District of Columbia from June 9 through July 6 in what was called the “COVID States Project.”

“The biggest expressed concern of the unvaccinated is the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines,” the Sept. 14 report on the study said. “The unvaccinated are much more much more likely to be skeptical of the efficacy and safety of vaccines more generally.”

South Dakota falls into some of the categories that account for the largest share of unvaccinated individuals in the U.S.

Republicans and those who are Republican leaning make up the largest share of unvaccinated individuals, according to the KFF polling report. And 38% of fully-vaccinated Republicans say they do not plan to get a booster shot when eligible.

The KFF found that the largest “unvaccinated population is now disproportionately made up of those who identify as Republican or Republican-leaning, with six in ten (60%) identifying as Republican or Republican-leaning.”

The KFF said in the November report that “partisanship has been a strong predictor of views on coronavirus from the early days of the pandemic.”

The KFF reported in June that more Republicans reported living in all unvaccinated homes than Democrats.

The KFF reported in May that an April report showed Democrats were more enthused about the vaccines than Republicans but enthusiasm was increasing in Republicans. Younger adults, particularly those 18 to 29, were more willing to wait to get a vaccine. The age trend is continuing, according to the November KFF report.

An The Economist YouGov poll from September showed that 38% of the respondents from 18 to 44 said they will not get vaccinated.

According to The Economist YouGov poll, 17% of respondents said they will not get vaccinated, 29% said they were Republican and 17% said they were Independent. Thirty-one percent said their ideology was conservative.

South Dakota had 279,187 registered Republicans as of Nov. 1 with 153,830 registered as Democrats, according to the office of the South Dakota Secretary of State. Another 139,740 were registered as Independents or no party affiliation. About 3,800 were Libertarian or other.

“Larger shares of unvaccinated Republicans identify as conservative (68% v. 58%) and live in counties where former President Trump received more votes during the 2020 election (65% v. 52%),” the KFF study said.

A January through May 2021 study by Carnegie Mellon and Pittsburg University showed that during January through May, counties with higher Trump support showed higher vaccine hesitancy. That hesitancy grew over the study period, according to a July 21 story published by Carnegie Mellon.

Sixty-two percent of South Dakota’s voters chose Donald Trump as president in 2020.

Thirty percent of the estimated 9,292 population in Charles Mix County was under 18 in 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2020, 67% of the voters in Charles Mix County voted for Trump.

According to the SD DOH, 2,721 people are fully vaccinated in the county and 913 have received a booster as of Nov. 18.

Grant County had an estimated population of 7,052 in 2019, according to the Census Bureau. There are 2,660 fully-vaccinated individuals in the county as of Nov. 18. A total of 657 people have had a booster shot. Seventy-percent of the voters selected Trump.

In Minnehaha County, which includes a large portion of Sioux Falls in its population, 53% of the voters supported Trump while 47% supported two other candidates: Biden (43%) and Jorgenson (4%). The spread was greater in Lincoln County, which includes a portion of southern Sioux Falls. Sixty-one percent of the voters choose Trump.

The estimated 2019 population of Minnehaha County was 193,134 with 25% under 18, according to the Census Bureau. As of Nov. 18, 75,737 individuals were fully vaccinated with 28,064 individuals having the booster.

The estimated 2019 population of Lincoln County was 61,218, according to the Census Bureau. About 28% were under 18. As of Nov. 18, 22,789 individuals were fully vaccinated and 8,789 had received a booster.

The populations of Minnehaha and Lincoln counties have increased since 2019 but the 2019 Census data provides estimated populations for those under 18 as well as education levels.

The unvaccinated Republicans are generally younger, less educated and more conservative than vaccinated Republicans, according to KFF.

But a study from earlier in 2021 showed that adults including those with a high school education or less had a decrease in vaccination hesitancy.

A January through May 2021 study by Carnegie Mellon University found that for adults 18 to 64, COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy decreased by just over one-third from January to May 2021.

The largest decrease in hesitancy between January and May by education group was in those with a high school education or less, researchers in the Carnegie Mellon University study said in a story publish by Carnegie Mellon on July 26.

The education portion follows a June report in which KFF said those with a college education or more were likely to get vaccinated.

When considering education, South Dakotans may not fit a less educated description for an unvaccinated individual.

About 92% of South Dakotans had a high school education from 2015-2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. About 29% of the state’s population has a bachelor’s degree or higher.

In Charles Mix County, a rural South Dakota county, 88% of the population had a high school education.

In the U.S., 45% of the unvaccinated Republicans had a high school education. Thirty-four percent had some college education, according to KFF.

Sixty-one percent of the unvaccinated Republicans were aged 18 to 50 compared to the 44% of that age group who were vaccinated Republicans, according to KFF.

Most of the unvaccinated Republicans live in rural or suburban areas, according to the KFF research. Fifty-two percent live in suburbs while 27% live in rural areas.

South Dakota is classified as a rural state, according to the U.S.D.A. with micropolitan areas of Sioux Falls and Rapid City.

Of the vaccinated Republicans, 73% say it’s a personal choice whether to be vaccinated as compared to everyone’s responsibility to protect the health of others, according to KFF. Ninety-three percent of unvaccinated Republicans say it’s a personal choice. Eighty-one percent of vaccinated Democrats say it is everyone’s responsibility to protect the health of others.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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