The severity of the Delta variant of the coronavirus – exemplified by the record-breaking case numbers in some states and over-crowded hospitals – has done little to change the minds of those who do not trust the vaccine.
The Kaiser Family Foundation published the results of a poll on Wednesday that suggests adults holding anti-vaccination or vaccine-hesitant beliefs have largely continued to hold those beliefs, despite the growing number of infections.
The survey polled 1,517 adults in mid-July concerning their experiences with and opinions of the vaccines.
Even though the poll was conducted before the US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention updated its mask guidance, 62 per cent of fully vaccinated respondents said they intended to continue wearing their masks indoors in public due to the Delta variant.
Only 37 per cent of unvaccinated adults said the variant was enough of a threat for them to consider wearing face masks, and only 40 per cent said they intentionally avoided large gatherings.
“When we look at who's more likely to be changing their behaviours because of Delta, it's vaccinated people versus the unvaccinated people. That's what really stands out,” Liz Hamel, the vice president and director of public opinion and survey research at the Kaiser Family Foundation told NBC News.
Between 13 and 15 per cent of respondents said they were firmly opposed to the vaccine, and those numbers have not changed since the organisation began polling back in December. The most recent poll found that 14 per cent of respondents said they would “definitely not” get vaccinated.
Individuals who have remained unvaccinated were more likely to believe that the seriousness of the virus is being overplayed by the press, and that the Covid-19 vaccine is more dangerous than the virus that has killed more than 4 million people worldwide.
Vaccination status has largely fallen along political lines, according to the researchers.
The “differences are to a large degree driven by unvaccinated Republicans,” the authors of the study wrote. “Majorities of Republicans say they never wear a mask outdoors, in crowded outdoor places, at work, or in a grocery store. Democrats are more likely to report wearing a mask at least most of the time in all of these locations.”
Views on the vaccine within the Republican Party are scattered, with some lawmakers singing the praises of the shot and acting as though Donald Trump spoke them into being. Other officials and Republican laypeople have claimed the shots are the Biblical “mark of the beast”, and have pushed conspiracy theories that the vaccines magnetise patients and “interface” with 5G towers.
Despite deniers, vaccine acceptance does appear to have picked up steam in areas experiencing huge infection surges.
The latest spikes are primarily among the unvaccinated. While the CDC noted that vaccinated people can still transmit the virus, they do so at a significantly lower rate than those without the virus do, and that the majority of transmission is between unvaccinated people. This is because people tend to cluster with like-minded people; unvaccinated people are more likely to have unvaccinated friends and family members.
More than 70 per cent of adults in the US have had one dose of the vaccine, while only 50 per cent of adults are currently fully vaccinated.