Real Chemistry has tracked vaccine confidence in the American population since November of 2020. They did so through their proprietary social and digital analytics and global polling. They conducted a one-of-a-kind study in February of 2021 that correlated self-reported vaccine confidence data from social media with consumer data among 5,125 research participants. Real Chemistry looked at the attributes of Americans who are hesitant to receive the COVID-19 vaccine; they saw that living in a small town, having right-leaning ideologies, or being Black/African American is not the reason why these groups are less willing to get vaccinated. Instead, they discovered underlying factors that are common within those three groups, as well as many other segments of the American population.
Vaccine confidence is holding firm, but recently, it has reached a plateau. 83% of social media users have been vaccinated or report a willingness to get vaccinated. Vaccination rates by healthcare providers remain at an all time high at 99%. 92% of social media users believe COVID-19 vaccines are safe and 86% believe the vaccines are effective. In order to achieve herd immunity at 70-85% of the population, approximately 10-15% of the United States population needs to change their mind. While most segments are willing to vaccinate, the right-leaning political affiliation is most unwilling, citing freedom of choice and side effects as their main reasons.
Vaccination rates by political affiliation, geography, and race remain high with a subtle difference among segments. However, there is a slower increase among the right-leaning political affiliation. Excluding individuals with right-leaning political ideologies, the likelihood to vaccinate based on political affiliation, geography, and race range from 88% to 95%. The right trails behind with 65% of individuals stating they are likely to vaccinate. Even so, vaccine confidence for the right-leaning population is moving up and belief in vaccine safety is high, as is the belief that we can achieve broad immunity.
Real Chemistry researched the top attributes associated with vaccine confidence and vaccine ambivalence. Those who are confident in the vaccine are more likely to invest in IRAs, donate to left-leaning political candidates, live in an area with a high number of individuals with STEM degrees, and save a large portion of their income. Individuals who are ambivalent towards receiving the vaccine are more likely to read the bible, live in an area where the population takes career advancement courses, have multiple pets, and have an average education of high school or less.
So, how do we close the gap? The answer is more simple than you think. Closing the gap will require three things: positive dialogue, increased convenience and accessibility, and vaccine incentives. Individuals should refrain from pointing fingers at the right-leaning political party; we will be more successful in converting vaccine-hesitant citizens by emphasizing the personal and economic benefits. Additionally, the transition from mass vaccination sites to dose availability within local health care provider offices and clinics will provide greater access and increase the number of vaccinated individuals. Finally, freedom of choice must remain paramount, but governments and companies should invest in incentives that resonate with vaccine-hesitant citizens.