Survey: majority of tri-county residents believe COVID vaccine is safe, necessary

Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 2:00 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - A large majority of people living in the north country believe the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and necessary to beat the virus. That’s according to a new survey about why some people may be hesitant to get the shot.

As the tri-county area pushes for herd immunity, a new survey suggests more people are for the COVID-19 vaccine than you may think.

“The majority agrees in the safety of the vaccine. The majority tend to agree in the necessity of the vaccine, so we learned that,” said Joel LaLone, director, Jefferson Community College Center for Community Studies.

Many may frame this as a political issue, but here’s what was found:

“A majority of people who voted for Trump, or people who identify as Republicans, have already been vaccinated,” said Dr. David Larsen, associate professor of public health, Syracuse University.

Larsen and LaLone teamed up to learn more about vaccine hesitancy.

“What it really boiled down to was the perceived risk of it. Folks who believe that getting the vaccine is riskier to their health than getting COVID themselves,” said LaLone.

The two surveyed 875 people from Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence counties with two goals in mind.

The first: to better understand the attitudes and practices of north country residents related to the pandemic and vaccine.

And the second: to learn more about the factors that are associated with hesitancy to get the COVID-19 vaccine, which accounts for about 24 percent of those surveyed.

The survey shows perceived severity of the virus and lack of trust in the vaccine process were stronger reasons for not getting the vaccine than political ideology.

While Republicans have been known to get vaccinated at a slower rate overall, Larsen hopes these results prove the pandemic isn’t a partisan issue.

For example, 14.5 percent of people, both Republicans and Democrats, say COVID-19 is not a major health problem.

“We need to leave politics aside and address those concerns,” said Larson.

LaLone says, if anything, he hopes this data will help the minority accept what he calls the “five pillars” of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“It’s safe, it’s effective, it’s necessary, it’s the social norm, and it’s free,” he said.

See the full survey results below.

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