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Republicans in California most opposed to taking COVID-19 vaccine, poll shows

People stand with signs protesting pandemic lockdowns
A Jan. 30 protest at Dodger Stadium against the COVID vaccine, masks and lockdowns.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Skepticism about the COVID-19 vaccine has fallen steadily in California as inoculations increase. But resistance still remains particularly high among one group: Republicans.

In a poll released late Tuesday by the Public Policy Institute of California, 26% of registered Republicans said they will definitely not get vaccinated, and 13% said they probably won’t be. The 39% hesitancy rate is the highest of any group surveyed.

The poll of 1,706 adult residents mirrors similar results in other recent U.S. polls and challenges the assertion that the highest rates of vaccine skepticism are among Black and Latino residents. The data also lay out another potential roadblock on California’s already rocky path to herd immunity through vaccination.

About 29% of Black Californians said they would probably or definitely refuse the vaccine, down from 55% in January. Among Latinos, 22% are hesitant, a rate that has remained unchanged in the last two months.

The rate of Republicans who said they would not get vaccinated has declined only slightly since January, dropping 4 percentage points from 43%, the pollsters found.

Republicans were also the group least likely to be concerned about being hospitalized for COVID-19, with 53% of respondents saying they were not at all concerned, and 24% saying they were not too concerned.

About 33% of Republicans said they had already received at least one shot, compared with 42% of Democrats and 35% of people with no party preference.

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The share of Democrats who say they will probably not or definitely not get vaccinated has also fallen 4 points to 10%.

Riverside and San Bernardino counties had the highest rates of vaccine skepticism, surpassing Los Angeles, the Central Valley, the Bay Area, and Orange and San Diego counties, the Public Policy Institute poll found. Nearly 3 in 10 Inland Empire residents said they would probably not or definitely not get vaccinated.

The California findings mirror the results of two national polls also released this week.

A poll released Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the highest rates of vaccine refusal were among Republicans (29%) and white evangelical Christians (28%). About 1 in 5 rural residents also said they would definitely not get vaccinated.

A Gallup survey also released Tuesday found that Republican respondents were least likely to be vaccinated or plan to be, at 54%.

Among people who did not plan to accept a vaccine dose if it were offered, 23% said they wanted to wait to confirm the vaccine is safe. An additional 20% said they did not think the health effects of the disease would be serious, 15% said they did not trust vaccines generally, and 10% said they had already had COVID-19.

The Public Policy Institute poll was conducted on cellphones and land lines in English and Spanish between March 14 and March 23.


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