The effort to provide a Covid-19 vaccine booster to every American adult is underway. While millions of Americans have received their booster, 84% of adults have not.
The initial polling indicates that convincing a good portion of this 84% to get a booster could prove difficult. This divide may end up being even more partisan than the already wide gap we’re used to on Covid-19 vaccines.
Take a look at a Kaiser Family Foundation poll taken in the middle of November. The poll asked fully vaccinated Americans whether they definitely would, probably would, probably would not or would definitely not get the booster. Other Americans are not eligible.
Just 40% of all adults said they definitely would or already had received a booster. An additional 12% indicated that they would probably get it. Combined and unrounded, 53% of all adults said they would likely or had already received a booster shot.
Put another way, 79% of fully vaccinated (i.e. eligible for the booster) Americans said they would get the booster in the poll. A look at other polling indicates that about 75% to 80% of vaccinated adults said they would get the booster. In other words, this poll isn’t an outlier.
Now, these percentages may rise with the Omicron variant out there and health officials pushing hard for boosters. We know that vaccination rates rise when people fear getting the virus more.
Still, 53% of all adults getting the booster represents a lower base than the adults who said they would definitely or probably would get the vaccine when it was initially offered.
In early December 2020, 71% of adults told the Kaiser that they would definitely or would probably take the vaccine. The December 2020 date of the poll is notable because it’s right around when the vaccine was initially authorized for emergency use and the first people were receiving it.
This 71% is identical to the 71% of all adults who the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now says are fully vaccinated (i.e. received two doses of Moderna or Pfizer or one dose of Johnson & Johnson).
Both Democrats and Republicans seem less likely to get a booster than get an initial vaccination, but Republicans in particular have been the most down on a booster.
In the new Kaiser poll, just 36% of Republicans overall said they would get the booster. This is significantly less than the 77% of Democrats.
For comparison, the same Kaiser poll found that 85% of all Democrats were fully vaccinated and 55% of all Republicans were.
This means that the partisan gap on boosters was 11 points higher than it was on becoming vaccinated and that spread was already pretty wide.
The partisan gap on boosters is also wider than the gap on vaccines when the vaccines were first becoming available to the public. In December 2020, there was a 30-point partisan difference compared to the 41-point booster gap in the latest Kaiser poll.
Closing that gap could prove quite difficult. Unlike last December, the government and health officials are fighting a two-front war on vaccinations: getting people who aren’t fully vaccinated to become fully vaccinated and getting people who are fully vaccinated to take a booster.
There are still a lot of people in the former camp, including about half of all Republicans.
The polling makes it clear that any drive for vaccinations, especially among Republicans and the unvaccinated, should probably not be led by politicians.
Only 47% of Americans have a great deal or fair amount of trust that President Joe Biden can relay accurate information about the coronavirus, per the latest Axios/Ipsos survey. Just 50% of Americans have a great deal or a fair amount of trust in state government officials to do so.
Both of these represent a decline from last December when over 55% of Americans had faith in either to give accurate information.
Drilling down further, just 12% of Republicans and 17% of unvaccinated had trust in Biden to give accurate information, according to an October Axios/Ipsos poll.
For comparison, previous polling showed that 83% of adults trusted their own doctor to give accurate information about the Covid-19 vaccines. Even among Republicans and the unvaccinated, 82% and 69%, had at least a fair amount of trust.
The hope has to be that these groups will listen to what almost all professional health officials say: Get vaccinated if you aren’t and get a booster if you’re fully vaccinated.