A new poll suggests that an overwhelming majority of Massachusetts residents are willing to take a Covid-19 vaccine, though when they might feel comfortable doing so varies across racial and socioeconomic demographics, raising further concerns about unequal immunization.
The MassINC survey of more than 1,100 residents found that just 7 percent of participants said they will never take the vaccine. However, questions about individuals’ preferences for when they get vaccinated revealed that Black and Latino respondents were less willing to do so right away.
Overall, 36 percent of Massachusetts residents said they will take it “as soon as possible,” and 47 percent plan to wait until either a few or many people have taken it. The results provide some confidence that Massachusetts could reach herd immunity, with a large majority of the population saying they would get vaccinated.
Among white Massachusetts residents, 38 percent said they planned to take a vaccine right away, compared to 28 percent of Black respondents and 22 percent of Latino respondents. The survey included an oversample of Black and Latino residents to reach more people among those demographics.
The responses varied slightly by gender, too. The rates of who said they would want to take a vaccine as quickly as possible were lowest among women of color:
White men:44 percent;white women:31percent;Black men:36 percent;Black women:19 percent;Latino men:23 percent;Latina women:21 percent.
The survey also asked people about what institutions and leaders they trust when it comes to vaccine information. Across demographics, people most trust their doctors to tell them when a vaccine works and is safe, at 80 percent overall.
At the same time, 61 percent are reluctant to trust the government when it comes to their health care. That concern ranked second among respondents, after worries that potential vaccines had not been thoroughly tested, which 65 percent of respondents said was at least somewhat a reservation for them.
Additionally, the survey quizzed residents on their vaccine knowledge by asking factual questions. It found varying degrees of understanding across demographics, but knowledge was highest among white respondents, Democrats, and higher income levels, implying that those groups have the highest access to accurate information.
Trust in the health care system was also strongest among those with the highest education levels and incomes, according to the poll.
The Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, which partnered with MassINC on the survey, said the results show a need to demonstrate transparency and safety early in the distribution process, with a focus on groups that are more at risk of the virus, including Black and Latino communities.
“From being denied access to quality, affordable health care under Jim Crow to being enrolled in medical experiments without their consent, Black Americans, in particular, do not trust that our health care system has their best interests at heart,” said Michael Curry, incoming CEO of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, in a statement.
“Community health centers look forward to leveraging our unique knowledge and understanding of these communities to help them feel more confident in making decisions during this unprecedented public health emergency,” he said.
The survey did not name any specific vaccine among the ones that could be distributed this month or in 2021 in the US. The polling was conducted from Nov. 18 to Nov. 25.