COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy shifts, higher among Republicans polls show

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The COVID-19 vaccine is one of the tools doctors say can help us get to the other side of the pandemic.

Action News Jax has done a number of stories explaining and examining hesitancy from people of color, due to America’s checkered past with health care.

But now there’s a new group showing vaccine hesitancy: Republicans.

Action News Jax’s Courtney Cole spoke to local Grand Old Party leadership to learn if there are plans to encourage more Republicans to get vaccinated.

“Republicans, of course, they will get the vaccine in due course. But as Republicans, we do not believe that people should be forced,” said Dean Black, the chairman of the Republican Party of Duval County.

There’s been a major focus — on a federal, state and local level — to get more people of color vaccinated to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

But now, there’s another group leading the way when it comes to vaccine hesitancy: Republicans.

“Why do you think that there’s more hesitancy on the Republican side than the Democratic side?” Cole asked Black.

“They’re going to take their time. There’ll be very deliberate. They have numerous choices now and they are going to be very deliberate,” Black replied.

Vaccines have been made available inside select area pharmacies to encourage more people to get the shot.

But Black told Cole that supply is not the issue when it comes to getting more of their party members vaccinated. Rather it’s about autonomy and choice.

According to a recent NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll:

  • 49% of Republican men said they do not plan to get the shot.
  • 6% of Democratic men said they do not plan to get the shot.
  • 34% of Republican women don’t plan to get vaccinated.
  • 14% of Democratic women don’t plan to get vaccinated.

“When you hear these numbers, what is your response to that data?” Cole asked Black.

“We have President Trump and Operation Warp Speed to thank for the fact that we even have this dilemma. It turned out numerous vaccines in record time. Nobody thought that possible, and so we should give him credit. And then here in Florida, it’s being administered under the governorship of Ron DeSantis, who is doing a fantastic job,” said Black.

Chad Neilsen, the director of accreditation and infection prevention at UF Health, saidif nothing else can convince you to get vaccinated, this should be the driving force:

“Why should I get the COVID vaccine? It’s our trip back to a normal life. I mean, there’s no other way to put it. If you want restrictions lifted, if you want to be able to do things, unrestricted, this is our ticket out of the pandemic,” he said.

According to a recent CBS News poll, some Republicans are concerned the vaccine was made too quickly, and others don’t trust the government enough to get vaccinated.

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