Vaccine Hesitancy

  • Most Republican leaders are pro-vaccination, and this will help to increase vaccination rates

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  • Most of the leading Republicans think people should get the COVID-19 vaccine now. These include:


    With most leading Republicans in favor of vaccination, more and more Republicans are beginning to get vaccinated. There are many other reasons why vaccination rates will probably rise to 80% nationwide. These include:

    • Other issues will arise that Republicans will be able to channel their political energies into. In the past when a particular issue wasn’t benefitting with their political agenda and was actually hurting them, they usually moved on to other issues with greater traction.
    • Governors of GOP states have big incentives to get people vaccinated. It will help their economies, jobs and businesses. This will incentivize the state’s residents to actively engage with their surroundings economically and culturally since there will be no fear of an outbreak. Citizens missing 1-3 weeks of work has a terrible impact on business owners; plus it equates to lost wages for a lot of people. Also, vaccinations will reduce healthcare costs and deaths. Large mortality rates are a huge political liability, especially if they were preventable.
    • Being anti-vax isn’t a strong fit with their ideological framework. Conservatives generally are in favor of public safety.
    • Some of the Republican anti-vax sentiments are related to RNA. Some of this dislike is because it’s a new technology, and some argue or worry that it hasn’t been tested for numerous years unlike other vaccine platforms. In about 1 1/2 to 3 months when the Novavax vaccine (that uses a tried and true technology) is available, that worry will no longer be valid and those against RNA vaccines will lose their main argument.
    • Over the course of the next 12 months, deaths and hospitalizations are going to gradually result in higher and higher vaccination rates. For example, this Alabama doctor said that after someone dies of Covid, their family members usually get vaccinated soon after. Even if people are hospitalized and survive, most of their family and friends will realize COVID-19 is serious and will get vaccinated.
    • People getting long COVID-19 will also be the catalyst for their friends and family to get vaccinated. When they realize that they could get long-term chronic fatigue and body pain, many will decide to avoid the risk. A study of 2 million patients found that infected people who have COVID-19 symptoms, but are not hospitalized, 27.5% of them develop long COVID. Even people who are infected and have zero symptoms, 19% of them later develop long COVID-19. This means that in the coming months, many will come into contact with friends, family and colleagues who have long COVID-19. Such people will be akin to walking advertisements for vaccination.
    • Even people just being sick in bed for a week will lead to more vaccinations. Some don’t have sick days at work, and not being vaccinated will likely hurt their savings. Other people don’t have enough sick days to be out for 1 to 4 weeks. Most don’t want to get sick with COVID-19 and unexpectedly miss key life events or have to cancel/skip planned events. This includes missing vacations, athletes missing key sporting events or tournaments, performers missing performances. For example, the top league in college football, the SEC, will make teams forfeit games if they can’t field a full squad for a game. In college football, a single extra loss can result in a team not making the playoffs and having no shot at the championship. 
    • Peer pressure from friends and family will also increase vaccination rates. In addition to verbal pressure, this will include not allowing unvaccinated people to come to their parties, weddings, funerals and other social events.
    • Influence from athletes, musicians and others who they respect. 
    • Not being able to do things like go on cruises, travel, eat at restaurants, attend concerts and other desirable events and plans. For example, certain bars are already demanding proof of vaccination to enter. Another example is the Pac-12 sports league won’t allow coaches to attend its media day if they’re not vaccinated. 
    • When people go in for their annual physical or for another doctor’s visit, their doctor will try to persuade them to get vaccinated.
    • The incentives being offered (lotteries, free stuff etc.) by governments and businesses to get vaccinated.
    • Mandates by some states and schools, including universities. Likewise, some businesses are requiring their employees to be vaccinated or get fired, which is exactly what took place with the Minnesota Vikings football team. This news report from late July found that a slew of mandates had been recently implemented. A poll found that 2/3rds of people said their employer was encouraging people to get vaccinated. After the FDA moves from emergency use authorization of COVID vaccines to full approval in the next few months, more employers will move from encouraging to mandating. 
    • Also, unvaccinated people will find themselves subject to other impediments and restrictions. E.g. in all NCAA sports, unvaccinated players will be subject to contact tracing, regular testing and quarantine rules. If they’ve been near someone with COVID-19, they will miss practice and games for 10 to 14 days. Even if they haven’t been around a sick person, they must be quarantined before traveling to events. This year, Covid infections caused the NC State baseball team to be ejected from the College World Series when they were just one game away from the championship round. If 85% were vaccinated, they wouldn’t have even been subject to tests, they likely wouldn’t have had an outbreak and even if they had an outbreak, the vaccinated players would have been allowed to play. Less than 50% of the players were vaccinated, so they weren’t even close to the 85% requirement.
    • With the original virus, experts estimated that between 75% and 80% of people needed immunity in order for a population to reach herd immunity. However, the Delta variant is 100% more contagious than the original virus. As a result, experts think about 85% of people will need immunity for herd immunity to occur. Governments and healthcare systems will do everything they reasonably can to get as close as possible to herd immunity. With a higher threshold needed due to Delta, governments and health systems will be trying to achieve higher vaccination rates than they previously planned to reach.
    • Prior to the Delta variant, case counts were declining so rapidly and to such low levels that most unvaccinated Americans probably felt they wouldn’t need to be vaccinated because of the very low level of risk in their region. The Delta variant has more severe impacts on people than the original virus due to having viral loads that are on average 1,000% higher than the original.. It also is causing case counts to skyrocket and is putting unvaccinated people in grave danger. As they become more aware of the likelihood and severity of this danger, some of them will probably shift their opinion.
    • A poll found that 30% of unvaccinated adults would be more likely to get vaccinated if one of the vaccines authorized for emergency use receives full FDA approval. The FDA will probably do this in the next 2 to 4 months, so that alone could increase the vaccination rate by 5% to 8%. 
    • While attacking anti-vaxxers, Geraldo Rivera said, “​​We too have rights: to deny the unvaccinated access to our home, school or business.” Related to his point, this is a situation in which majority rule will probably win out. This becomes increasingly true the higher that vaccination rates rise. When the split is 45% vaccinated to 55% unvaccinated, the vaccinated don’t feel highly confident exercising their right to deny unvaccinated people access to their homes, schools and businesses. But some of them still will in order to protect themselves, their families and their employees. When the split becomes 55% vaccinated to 45% unvaccinated, the vaccinated feel much more confident exercising their right. In addition, they have majority rule at places where the decision is made by a group. When the split reaches 60% vaccinated to 40% unvaccinated, confidence goes even higher and more people and places implement restrictions on the unvaccinated. If the split reaches 70% to 30%, it will likely be a tipping point where restrictions on the unvaccinated become widespread and constant. That in turn would probably result in a 75% vaccination rate, at which point restrictions would likely become the norm and result in increasingly higher vaccination rates.


    As of July 26th, over 57% of the American population has had at least one dose of the vaccine, with over 342 million doses administered. Almost 50% have been fully vaccinated.

    Children under 18 represent 24% of the total US population. Only 14.3% of them have received their first dose because people under 12 years old are not approved to be vaccinated yet, and people ages 11 to 17 were only recently approved.

    In late June, 65% of American adults reported they had received at least one dose. Of people who are 18 years or older, 70% have received at least one dose as of July 26th. Of the 30% who are completely unvaccinated, 19% say they will probably or definitely get vaccinated. 19% of 30% translates to roughly 6% of people 18 and older. That alone would bring the total to 76%.

    With the 16 different factors described above that will influence people to be vaccinated, it’s reasonable to think rates among people 18 and older will increase another 4% to 9% for a total of 80% to 85%. As noted earlier, 30% of unvaccinated people said they will be more likely to be vaccinated if the FDA gives full approval to one of the vaccines that now is authorized for emergency use. Since the FDA is going to do this by January, 2022, it will probably add several percent to the total rate.

    After vaccines are approved for people under 12, it’s also reasonable to think that child rates will rise to a level that is fairly similar to adult rates. In fact, usually the rates of vaccination for children are much higher than for adults. One of many reasons for this is mandates by most schools that require children to be vaccinated in order to attend school. Another reason is that if adults believe in the vaccine enough to be vaccinated, they will probably have their children do the same.

    Another poll found that 77% of Americans believe that vaccinations will have a positive effect on the US economy. American usually want to do what they can to support the economy, so that also indicates a total of 80% to 85% is achievable.

    Overall, the vaccination rate in the US will probably be very high within the next 10 months. Most of the factors described above that will cause vaccination rates to increase are also present in other countries. Moreover, the majority of other countries don’t have a situation where members of a major political party have shown vaccine hesitancy as a political gesture. So they don’t even need to overcome that hurdle. As a result, many of them may be able to reach levels of 80% to 85% faster than the US. For example, in the UK 90% of adults have received the first dose and 70% have had both doses.

    Of course, a portion of countries will have a hurdle to overcome that is different from the US hurdle that’s related to politics. But on the whole, the majority of countries should be able to achieve strong vaccination rates once they have enough supply.