A health care worker administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a Marymount University student. CNS photo/Chaz Muth

Poll shows faith a factor in vaccine acceptance

  • August 11, 2021

WASHINGTON -- There are large differences between religious groups in the United States in their attitudes toward getting the COVID-19 vaccine for themselves or for their children, according to a poll released Aug. 5 by the Public Religion Research Institute.

Forty per cent of white Catholics and 48 per cent of Hispanic Catholics said they have gotten or will get their children vaccinated, but only 18 per cent of white evangelical Protestants and 27 per cent of Hispanic Protestants said they will do the same. The two Protestant groups are the least likely to do so of all the groups surveyed in the poll.

Among other groups, 33 per cent of white mainline Protestants, 35 per cent of Black Protestants and 35 per cent of the religiously unaffiliated “are vaccine acceptant for their children,” PRRI said.

Earlier this year the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved — and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signed off on the move — the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccines be administered to children as young as 12, and testing is taking place among younger children to determine a safe dosage level for them.

With the school year starting on either side of Labour Day for virtually all U.S. schools amid growing controversy about mask and vaccination mandates — and the surge of the Delta variant of the virus that sparked the mandates — the results are instructive.

“Faith-based approaches supporting vaccine uptake can influence parents to get themselves and their children vaccinated,” said PRRI in its report, “Back to School: Parents, Religion and COVID-19 Vaccination.”

Examples of faith-based approaches the report gave included a religious leader trusted by respondents getting a vaccine or encouraging them to get a vaccine, a nearby religious congregation hosting a pop-up “clinic” where vaccines would be available and a local religious community providing people assistance in getting an appointment to get a vaccine.

“Three in 10 parents with children under the age of 18 who are not yet vaccinated indicate that one or more faith-based approaches could help sway them, and among vaccinated parents, 22 per cent said one or more faith-based approaches helped convince them to get vaccinated,” the report said.

“Nearly half of unvaccinated parents who attend religious services at least a few times a year (35 per cent) say faith-based approaches could convince them to get vaccinated, compared to 16 per cent of those who seldom or never attend religious services,” it said.

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