Most of the leading Republicans think people should get the COVID-19 vaccine now. These include:
- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell continues to be very vocal in favor of vaccination. In late July, he said: “These shots need to get in everybody’s arms as rapidly as possible or we’re going to be back in a situation in the fall that we don’t yearn for — that we went through last year”. He even urged Americans to pay no attention to those “giving demonstrably bad advice”, clearly referring to anti-vaxxers and those with a political agenda. His clear support of vaccinations stems from his childhood when he was saved by the Polio vaccine. https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/564441-mcconnell-pushes-vaccines-but-gop-muddles-his-message
- An increasing number of prominent GOP leaders are advising their constituents and listeners to get vaccinated. House Minority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana (the House’s No. 2 Republican) was recently vaccinated and said: “I would encourage people to get the vaccine. I have high confidence in it .… there shouldn’t be any hesitancy over whether or not it’s safe and effective”. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) have both criticized the anti-vaxxers narrative, with Cornyn claiming that it was built on conspiracy theories, and Romney calling the politicization of vaccines “moronic”. https://www.salon.com/2021/07/21/why-republicans-suddenly-seem-to-be-taking-covid-seriously/ https://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/us-elections-government/ny-covid-vaccinations-gop-leaders-vocalize-support-20210721-g33udgq6szgcrgvx2hagw4y6pi-story.html https://sports.yahoo.com/gop-governor-says-time-blame-082206631.html
- Numerous GOP governors in the most conservative states have been extremely vocal about the importance of vaccination to their economies and to saving lives. West Virginia Governor Jim Justice said: “We have a lottery that says if you’re vaccinated, we’re going to give you free stuff. Well, you’ve got another lottery for [the unvaccinated], and it’s a death lottery.” Utah Governor Spencer Cox said his state’s low vaccination rate was “troubling” and that “hopefully reason will rule.” Arkansas Governor Ava Hutchinson said his state is “in a race against this Delta variant” and “the solution is the vaccinations.” Alabama Governor Kay Ivey bashed unvaccinated people, saying they are to blame for the rise in Covid cases. She also said they “are choosing a horrible lifestyle of self-inflicted pain” and “are letting us down.”
- Sean Hannity, one of FOX News’ most prominent anchors, recently said it “absolutely makes sense for many Americans to get vaccinated.” Many have seen this as an endorsement of vaccinations by the entire network. A change of tone from their previous tone. But it should be noted that such limp support is continuously overcome by anti-vaxxing sentiments that bombard their viewers with negative stories and analysis surrounding the pandemic and its life-saving vaccines. https://thehill.com/changing-america/well-being/prevention-cures/563926-sean-hannity-tells-viewers-to-get-covid-19 https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/hannity-pleads-with-viewers-to-get-vaccinated-believe-in-science-of-vaccination-062634978.html
- Former President Trump has been supporting the vaccine in TV interviews and public appearances. In March, Trump appeared on Fox News Primetime and calmly stated that he “would recommend [the vaccine] to a lot of people that don’t want to get it and a lot of those people voted for me, frankly.” This arrives in the aftermath of his administration’s pandemic policy and the fact that he and his wife, Melania, were vaccinated in secret all the way back in January when he was still in office, revealing his obvious trust in vaccine safety. He also told Sean Hannity that “I encourage people to take it, I do,” and that vaccines were “saving the world.” It is of importance to note that in the same breath that Trump encouraged his supporters to get vaccinated, he also floated the conspiracy that the FDA was in bed with Pfizer and that was what resulted in the temporary halt of distribution of the Johnson&Johnson vaccine. When it is well documented that this was merely a pause in order to evaluate its health risks. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-56424614 https://www.forbes.com/sites/jackbrewster/2021/04/20/trump-i-dont-know-why-republicans-are-vaccine-hesitant-again-floats-pfizer-conspiracy-theory/?sh=47d5ff9b6b34
- As for overall numbers, a Washington Post survey found that 47% of Republicans said they were not likely to get vaccinated, meaning that a majority of 53% of Republicans were open to the idea of vaccinations and thus have a firm grasp on the gravity of the situation. 47% of Republicans have already received one dose of the vaccine. Also, there is often a lag time of a few weeks or months between messaging from the leaders of a political party and how people respond to polls. https://www.washingtonpost.com/context/june-27-30-2021-washington-post-abc-news-poll/9f67b281-b289-4e67-a9e1-9515018d7e90/?itid=lk_inline_manual_2&itid=lk_inline_manual_2
- Overall, the narrative of the GOP is quickly turning to one of embracing vaccination. Republicans now promoting vaccines include the two most powerful Republicans (Trump and McConnell), the House’s No. 2 Republican (Scalise) a former presidential nominee (Romney) and one of the two biggest Republican media personalities (Hannity).
OTHER REASONS WHY VACCINATION RATES WILL GO HIGHER
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. https://news.yahoo.com/johnson-johnson-vaccine-may-less-080034738.html
- 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. https://www.self.com/story/post-covid-problems-fair-health-study
- 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. https://www.yahoo.com/news/fox-news-geraldo-rivera-says-212701012.html 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.
CURRENT 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. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2021/01/28/960901166/how-is-the-covid-19-vaccination-campaign-going-in-your-state
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. https://www.pewresearch.org/science/2021/03/05/growing-share-of-americans-say-they-plan-to-get-a-covid-19-vaccine-or-already-have/
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.