Poll of the week: A new CBS News/YouGov poll finds that 22% of Americans say they have gotten at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. An additional 33% of Americans say they will get one when it is made available to them, while 22% say they may get it. Just 22% say they will not get one.
This poll is in line with other data on the subject.
What’s the point: America’s vaccination effort is among the best in the world. One of the few problems so far has been a racial inequity in who is receiving the vaccine. White Americans have received a disproportionate percentage of vaccinations compared with Black and Hispanic Americans. A lot of politicians have claimed this is because of vaccine hesitancy from people of color.
A look at the polling data suggests, however, that this may not be the case. The lower vaccination rates may, at least in part, be because of problems with access to the vaccine.
The YouGov poll illustrates this point well. Among Whites, 26% say they have gotten the vaccine, compared with 17% of Black adults and 11% of Hispanic adults.
Now look at those who say they want the vaccine in the same poll: 41% of Hispanics, 34% of Blacks and 31% of Whites.
This pattern is seen in other polling as well. An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll asked respondents whether they have gotten vaccinated, as well as whether they want it or don’t want it. It showed that 27% of White adults said they have received the vaccine compared with 17% of people of color. But an additional 50% of people of color say they want the vaccine, while 43% of Whites do.
In our last CNN/SSRS poll, Whites were 11 points more likely to say they didn’t want to be vaccinated at all.
Some polling does show vaccine hesitancy from Black Americans, such as that from the Kaiser Family Foundation/Washington Post poll of health care workers. In more polling than not, however, there is not a racial gap to indicate that people of color want the vaccine less than White people.
This is very different from where we were early on in the pandemic. If you were to look back at polling from Axios/Ipsos last summer, for instances, Whites were consistently about 10 points more likely to say they’d get vaccinated than people of color.
The question is what’s causing this racial gap between the people who have gotten the vaccine and those who have not.
Initially, I thought it might be because people of color were having difficulties navigating the systems used to sign up for vaccinations. But I’m not sure it is as simple as that.
According to the last CNN poll, just 11% of people of color say they have tried to schedule vaccinations and have failed. It’s 9% for Whites. Compare that with the 36% of people of color who say they want a vaccine and haven’t tried to get one. Just 25% of White people indicated they want to get the vaccine and have not tried to get one.
This poll finding seems to be representative of other data I’m seeing. The polls indicate that people of color aren’t trying to sign up and failing. It’s that they aren’t trying to sign up at all, even though they want the vaccine.
Some might call this hesitancy, but it could be that many people of color think that it’s so hard to get vaccinated or the system is so difficult to navigate that it isn’t worth trying.
Part of what may be occurring is that White people have easier access to the vaccine. Alex Samuels of FiveThirtyEight, who suggested that hesitancy was not the reason for vaccine inequity, has pointed out a lack of investment in vaccination centers in Black communities.
Obviously, you would be less likely to try to sign up if you didn’t think the vaccine was easily available to you.
We’ll see if the effort in some states (including New York) to put more vaccination centers in Black and Hispanic communities eventually pays off.
For now, politicians might be wise to shift their focus away from putting the onus on communities of color for not getting vaccinated. They should try to ensure easier access to the vaccine and make sure these communities know that they can get it.