Covid-19 shots are proven effective at preventing hospitalization, but unvaccinated Republicans in national poll don’t think so

Gallup Inc. graph, with “correct answer” note added by Kentucky Health News

Kentucky Health News

Covid-19 vaccinations prevent severe illness and hospitalizations, but a recent national poll finds that not everyone believes this to be true, especially Republicans.

Gallup Inc. found that most Americans overstate the likelihood of being hospitalized after contracting Covid-19 for both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, which is less than 1 percent, but are fairly accurate at estimating the effectiveness of the vaccines at preventing hospitalization, which is about 86%, Johathan Rothwell and Dan Witters report for Gallup.

The vaccines’ effectiveness is just slightly lower in Kentucky. From March 1 through Sept. 29, the state reports that 86.2% of coronavirus cases, 92.4% of Covid-19 hospital cases and 84.5% of Covid-19 deaths have been in unvaccinated or partially vaccinated Kentuckians.

To better understand what the public understands about the efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccines, Gallup asked 3,158 U.S. adults two questions Aug. 16-22: “As far as you know, what percentage of unvaccinated people have been hospitalized due to the coronavirus?” and “As far as you know, what percentage of fully vaccinated people have been hospitalized due to the coronavirus?”

Subtract the second percentage from the first and you get each group’s perceived effectiveness of the vaccine, which the pollsters call “median efficacy rate.”

Democrats gave the vaccines a median efficacy rate of about 88% at reducing hospitalizations. Independents gave them a rate of 75%. Republicans gave them only 50%. Among unvaccinated Republicans, the rate was zero; they saw no benefit of vaccination to prevent hospitalization.

The correct answer to both questions is less than 1 percent, but only 8% of unvaccinated respondents knew that; and just 38% of the vaccinated knew it.

Among the unvaccinated respondents, 41% of Democrats, 22% of Republicans and 26% of independents said more than half of unvaccinated people have been hospitalized, which is wildly incorrect. Asked about the vaccinated population, 42% of Democrats, 33% of Republicans and 37% of independents knew the correct answer.

The poll suggests that the gap in information about the effectiveness of the vaccine could be related to the news each of the political groups consume.

“Given previous studies on the effects of the media and information during Covid, one possible reason is that Democrats are more consistently exposed to information that favorably portrays vaccine efficacy,” Rothwell and Witters write. “Vaccine acceptance is unlikely to significantly increase among Republicans until their trusted media or other information sources emphasize the benefits of vaccination.”
Gallup polling shows that as of September 2021, 92% of Democrats, 56% of Republicans and 68% of independents have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.
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