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Here's who remains most likely, least likely to get a COVID-19 vaccine

A Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that despite Pfizer's studies showing the COVID shots are safe for kids 5-11, many parents' opinions haven't changed.

A new study from the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) is giving insight into who makes up the remaining holdouts from getting a COVID-19 vaccine, where parents are at when it comes to a decision on vaccinating children and whether people are planning to attend holiday gatherings this year.

Since last December, KFF has been running a COVID-19 vaccine monitor, which it says is an ongoing project to track people's "attitudes and experiences with COVID-19 vaccinations." Here are some of the findings from the October 2021 report.

Vaccinating children

"Pfizer’s announcement in September that their COVID-19 vaccine was shown to be safe and effective for children ages five to eleven in clinical trials seems to have had little impact on parents’ intentions to vaccinate their children in that age group," KFF reported.

Parents are somewhat evenly divided on whether they will get their children ages 5-11 vaccinated: 27% say they will "right away"; 33% say they will "wait and see"; 30% say "definitely not"; and 5% say they will only if they are required to.

Among the top things parents say they are "very" or "somewhat concerned" about in regards to vaccinating their children are:

  • Not enough known about long-term effects (76%)
  • Serious side effects from the vaccine (71%)
  • Impact on fertility in the future (66%). 

Fifty-one percent of parents in households that make less than $50,000 said they were "very" or "somewhat" concerned they will have to take time off work to get their child vaccinated or if the child experiences side effects. For households with incomes over $50,000, that number dropped to 23%. Additionally, 45% of lower-income parents said they were concerned about out-of-pocket costs for the vaccine vs. 11% of higher-income parents.

For kids 12-17, 50% of parents say the child is already vaccinated or they are going to get the vaccine "right away". Eleven percent are "wait and see" and 36% say "only if required" or "definitely not."

Credit: AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
Shauna Andrus, left, a nurse volunteering at the University of Washington Medical Center, gives the first shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to Emmy Slonecker, 7, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, in Seattle. Last week, U.S. health officials gave the final signoff to Pfizer's kid-size COVID-19 shot, a milestone that opened a major expansion of the nation's vaccination campaign to children as young as 5.

Who definitely will and won't get the vaccine?

Twenty percent of adults said they won't get the vaccine or will do so only if required, according to the survey. Nearly three-quarters of adults have gotten the vaccine. The rest said "as soon as possible" or they will "wait and see."

The three demographic groups KFF found in which the most people said they will "definitely not" get the vaccine were rural residents (33%), Republicans (31%) and White Evangelical Christians (25%). The demographic groups with the most "already received at least one dose" responses were Democrats (90%), people 65 and older (86%) and college graduates (83%).

When it comes to boosters, 53% of vaccinated adults say they'll get it while 24% say they probably will. About one-in-five probably or definitely won't.

Clear partisan divide in unvaccinated

The majority (59%) of Republican and Republican-leaning people say they have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine. But KFF found Republicans still make up a disproportionate number of those who aren't getting vaccinated -- a number that has steadily increased. Additionally, nearly four-in-ten Republicans say they likely or definitely won't get a booster.

It's something the foundation said will hinder vaccine efforts going forward.

"With most vaccinated Republicans saying they’re not worried about getting sick and 38% of fully vaccinated Republicans saying they do not plan to get a booster shot when eligible, it seems likely that partisanship will continue to play a role in the vaccine rollout beyond the initial effort to vaccinate the adult population," KFF said.

Of those who were unvaccinated in April, 42% were Republicans, 36% were Democrats and 16% were independents. In July, it was 51% Republican, 23% Democrat and 20% independent. By October, the makeup was 60% Republican, 17% Democrat and 17% independent.

Unvaccinated Republicans tend to be younger and less educated, KFF said. Sixty-one percent of unvaccinated Republicans were age 18-50 and 79% had a high school education or less or had some college experience. 

But vaccinated and unvaccinated shared similar attitudes about COVID-19 and vaccines regardless of whether they got the jab.

Eighty-eight percent of unvaccinated said the seriousness of COVID-19 is "exaggerated." A smaller majority (54%) of vaccinated Republicans gave the same answer. A majority (56%) of vaccinated Democrats said the seriousness was correct.

On whether they feared getting sick from COVID-19, 62% of unvaccinated said "not at all" while a plurality (42%) of vaccinated gave that answer. For vaccinated Democrats, it was 36% "not too worried" and 31% "somewhat worried."

Personal choice was a big point for Republicans. Ninety-six percent of unvaccinated Republicans said getting the jab is a personal choice vs. 3% who said it's everyone's responsibility to protect the health of others. For vaccinated Republicans, it was 73% personal choice vs. 26% responsibility. On the other side, vaccinated Democrats said 81% responsibility vs. 19% personal choice.

Other findings

  • Sixty-five percent of the unvaccinated say they are back to their pre-pandemic routines or didn't change at all. Forty-three percent of the vaccinated say this.
  • Nearly three-quarters of unvaccinated workers said they'd quit their jobs if forced to get vaccinated with no weekly testing option. If there was an option, 37% said they'd get the vaccine and 46% would get the test.
  • Nearly half of all people say they'll attend a holiday gathering of more than ten people compared to 22% who won't due to pandemic concerns.
  • Democrats and independents put more blame on COVID-19 spread for holding back economic growth in their area. Republicans mostly blame government restrictions to curb COVID-19 spread.
  • Nearly half of all adults have not heard about the new pill by Merck meant to help people with early COVID-19 symptoms from getting severely ill. And 19% mistakenly believe the pill prevents COVID-19 infection.
  • Nearly 80% of have heard some myth about COVID-19 or vaccines that they believe to be true or are not sure if it's true.
  • Local TV news tends to be the most-trusted source of information on COVID-19 while network news, cable news and social media are least-trusted. But vaccinated adults trust local and most major news sources more than unvaccinated people do.

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