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One-third of Texans will avoid the COVID-19 vaccine, new study finds

One-third of Texans will avoid the COVID-19 vaccine, new study finds

H-E-B woman getting covid-19 vaccine shot healthcare worker
Politics, gender, and education play a part in why Texans are declining the vaccine.  Photo courtesy of H-E-B

Austinites are struggling to secure COVID-19 vaccine appointments in a desperate effort to be inoculated against the scourge of coronavirus. However, a significant portion of their Lone Star State neighbors have no such intention, a new study finds.

Some one-third of Texans say they are unlikely to be immunized against COVID-19, according to a nationwide survey by the University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs. The study (see the full report here) also finds that more than 40 percent of Texans say they are certain to be vaccinated against COVID-19, according to a press release.

A significant number of Texans — more than one out of five or 22 percent — say they definitely will not accept a vaccine.

For some perspective, Texas has reported more than 2.4 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 37,000 deaths since the pandemic began last year.

Experts estimate between 70 percent and 90 percent of the population must be vaccinated in order to achieve herd immunity. Approximately 3 percent of Texans responding to the Hobby School survey reported that they already had received at least the first shot in the two-shot immunization process, per a press release.

So, why are Texans reticent about getting vaccinated?

“More than 60 percent of people who are hesitant to be immunized had concerns about potential side effects and worried that the vaccine is too new,” Kirk P. Watson,  Austin's former mayor and founding dean of the Hobby School, said in a statement. “Understanding why people resist immunization is an important step in reaching herd immunity.”

Some of the trepidation can even be linked to gender, education, and even politics, the study finds. Women and those without a four-year degree were substantially more likely to say they will not get a vaccine, the survey notes. The survey didn’t reveal dramatic variations among racial and ethnic groups.

“And we found that Democrats are significantly more likely than Republicans to report they definitely will be vaccinated against COVID, at 53 percent vs. 33 percent respectively,” said Mark P. Jones, a Hobby School senior research associate. “Republicans are more than twice as likely to say they definitely will not get vaccinated, at 28 percent compared with 11 percent of Democrats.”

Among other findings:

  • 38 percent said they definitely will get the shot, while another 18 percent said they probably will.
  • 22 percent said they definitely will not be immunized; another 10 percent said they probably will not. Nine percent said they have not decided.
  • African Americans reported greater uncertainty about the vaccine, with 15 percent saying they are undecided and 48 percent reporting they have already received it or definitely or probably will get it.
  • 10 percent of Latinos and 7 percent of Anglos are undecided, while 60 percent of Latinos and 59 percent of Anglos said they already have received it or definitely or probably will.
  • 66 percent of those who definitely or probably will not get the vaccine are worried about side effects; 65 percent said the vaccine is too new and they prefer to wait. 44 percent said the risks of COVID-19 have been exaggerated.
  • 58 percent of those resisting the vaccine say they don’t trust the government to ensure it is safe; 57 percent say the same about pharmaceutical companies.

To conduct the survey, the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston offered an online survey among Texans 18 and older from January 12-20. Some 1,329 residents responded, resulting in a confidence interval of +/-2.7. Respondents were matched to a sampling frame on gender, age, ethnicity/race, and education, and are representative of the Texas adult population, according to UH.