Connecting state and local government leaders
Cities are using the data to address Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy in their communities.
More than 120 million Americans are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, but many people remain skeptical about the vaccine.
As local governments have doled out all manner of perks in efforts to incentivize residents to get vaccinated—from free beer to lottery tickets—a new survey offers insight on what motivates people to get the vaccine.
Two of the biggest factors that impact a person’s willingness to be vaccinated are the convenience of getting a shot and whether or not a vaccine will be required for everyday activities, according to a recent survey by Zencity, Bennett Midland and the Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Center. Sixty-nine percent of people said convenience of getting the vaccine was an important factor in their decision to be vaccinated and 68% said the requirement to be vaccinated in order to participate in regular activities was an important factor.
Local government leaders said they’ve used this information to tailor their approach to vaccine outreach in their communities.
“At the beginning, the state and county set up these huge sites expecting the people would be coming to those sites,” said Newark, New Jersey Mayor Ras Baraka during a panel discussion about the survey results. “But if you are hesitant, you are not going to catch a bus, register and wait in line.”
To make vaccines more accessible, Newark began hosting pop-up vaccines in local neighborhoods where residents could walk up without an appointment and get a shot. When residents saw their friends and neighbors vaccinated in this manner, it helped spread the word further and chip away at resistance that some had toward being vaccinated, Baraka said.
“Vaccinating helps us vaccinate more people, and it's better than any advertisement or money that is spent on anything else,” he said.
Black and Hispanic communities were much more likely than white communities to say that seeing a friend or family member get vaccinated was an important factor in their decision, the Zencity survey found. The survey polled more than 8,700 people in 18 cities between March 18 and 31. Researchers also analyzed social media discussions to better understand sentiment about the vaccine.
About 13% of U.S. adults say they will never get the vaccine, according to the most recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll. But 6% say they will only get vaccinated if required and 15% remain on the fence and open to it but have said they intend to “wait and see.”
In New Orleans, local leaders have made a point to work with the tourism and hospitality industry to promote vaccines as a way for the city to reopen.
“Our folks want to get back to celebrating our traditions,” said New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “The only way to do that is through the vaccine.”
In recent press briefings, city officials have encouraged residents to get vaccinated if they want to participate in festivals and other large events later this year. Guidelines the city issued this month indicate that in addition to no longer being required to wear a face mask or social distance, vaccinated individuals will also be allowed to dance.
The city guidelines don’t indicate how those measures will be enforced, but Cantrell said she has been encouraging residents to laminate their vaccination cards and to download a state-run app that enables residents to access their vaccine records online.
Andrea Noble is a reporter with Route Fifty.