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Pandemic Immunizations
       To successfully win in the battle against COVID-19, a critical portion of the population needs to be inoculated. Repeated reports have addressed this and have tried to identify what parts of the population are unwilling to receive inoculations and why they are refraining. A lot of “finger pointing” has followed, but that does not solve the problem.
       In her article (“Do Republicans Mistrust Science?”) in the June 2021 issue of Scientific American, Naomi Oresked addresses many of these views. [It is important to remember that the article was probably written in either April or early May.] Here is part of her article:
       “At the start of the vaccine rollout, there was a lot of talk about vaccine hesitancy among Black and Hispanic populations, but recent data suggest the problem was one more of access than of reticence. A CBS news poll in March, for example, found that vaccine hesitancy among these groups was no more prevalent than among white populations. But such hesitancy is disproportionately high among Republicans.
       “A different CBS news poll in January found that only 28 per-cent of Republicans planned to get a vaccine as soon as possible, and a whopping 71 percent said they would either ‘wait to see what happens to others’ (42 percent) or never get one (29 percent). In contrast, 54 percent of Democrats and 38 percent of Independents planned to get the vaccine right away. In February a Monmouth University poll yielded a similarly worrisome result: 42 percent of Republicans said they would avoid ever getting the vaccine….
       “In March longtime Republican pollster Frank Luntz led a focus group with Trump voters….they were suspicious of the federal government and had a sense that science was often oversold. CBS found similar results, reporting that 60 percent of respondents say ‘scientists have been wrong on the coronavirus most or all of the time’ and that mask mandates and social distancing requirements do not help control the spread of the virus. And most of these people are Republicans.”
       However, I found an interesting point presented by David Leonhardt on May 24th in “The Morning” release from The New York Times. As he noted in the article headline: “The biggest vaccination gap isn’t based on race or partisanship. It’s based on class.” The data presented countered the view that the groups most hesitant to be inoculated are “Republican voters and racial minorities, especially Black and Latino Americans.” He points out that the factor these groups have in common, which is often overlooked, is that they are predominantly working class.
       He presented tables showing the position of various groups regarding getting inoculated. He then offered a second set of tables for “those same groups subdivided by class, using a four-year college degree as the dividing line between working class and professional.” The results were very clear: “working-class members of every group are less likely to have received a vaccine and more likely to be skeptical.” As he pointed out: “In some cases, different racial groups with the same education levels — like Black and white college graduates — look remarkably similar.”
       85% of the Democrats who are college graduates have been vaccinated, as compared to 58% who are non-graduates. For Republicans, the corresponding numbers are 63% and 39%.
       The results clearly show higher levels of skepticism regarding the vaccines for Republicans, which validates part of the view expressed by Naomi Oresked. However, it is important to try to have as complete a picture as possible before making any general statements. This is just as true regarding COVID-19 as regarding any other topic.
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