Patterns in COVID-19 vaccinations remain largely divided along political party lines, according to one report.
The COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor September 2023 found partisanship is still the key predictor of people’s views on the pandemic, including whether they plan to get the latest COVID-19 booster vaccine, according to a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF).
“Mirroring the partisan differences in views on vaccines, there is a persistent partisan divide on overall views of COVID-19, the current caseload in the US, whether they could be sick from COVID, and changes to behavior – including willingness to take a diagnostic test when sick,” stated investigators of the report. “Democrats are more likely to report changing their behaviors because of recent news of increases in COVID-19.”
The KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor is public opinion survey, which was conducted online and by telephone across a nationally representative sample of 1296 adults living in the United States, from September 6, 2023, to September 13, 2023. Additionally, the sample included 1014 adults who were contacted through the SSRS Opinion Panel, a nationally representative probability-based panel.
Of the total survey participants, 434 identified as Democrat, 321 Republican, and 347 Independent.
The survey revealed most adults (58%), including three-quarters of adults ages 65 years and older said they plan to get a flu shot this year, with some reporting they already received it. Furthermore, 58% of adults ages 60 years and older reported they will either “definitely get” or “probably get” the new respiratory syntactical virus (RSV) vaccine recommended for their age group.
However, a slightly smaller group (47%) of adults reported they plan to get the new COVID-19 vaccine, which was recommended by the CDC on September 12, 2023, compared with flu and RSV vaccines. Furthermore, while most (61%) of individuals who previously received the COVID-19 vaccine said they would get the new vaccine, 37% of these individuals said they “probably” or “definitely” will not get the new vaccine, and 27% of all adults who received the COVID-19 vaccine said they would not get the new vaccine.
These opinions seemed to be split between party lines, with intended uptake of vaccines and overall perceptions of the COVID-19 pandemic reflecting either Democratic or Republican partisanship. The poll showed 70% of Democrats say they will get the updated vaccine, 84% say they are confident in the safety of the vaccine, compared with 36% of Republicans. Overall, safety perceptions of the COVID-19 vaccine (57%) fell below those of RSV (65%) and flu (74%).
More than half of Democrats (58%) reported they modified their behavior to be more conscious of COVID-19 compared with 16% of Republicans. Additionally, Democrats (19%) were more likely than Independents (8%) and Republicans (9%) to say they had symptoms they thought could be COVID-19 in the past 3 months and had taken a COVID-19 test. Furthermore, 77% of Democrats say there is a new wave of COVID-19 infections currently in the United States, compared to 55% of Republicans who disagree.
Groups of patients who were most at risk for getting seriously sick, including adults ages 65 years and older (64%), those with serious health condition (56%), Hispanic (54%), and Black (51%) individuals said they intended to get the new COVID-19 vaccine, compared with White individuals (42%).
The survey revealed most parents said they will not get their children the new vaccination, including parents of children ages 12 to 17 years (60%), children ages 5 to 11 years (64%), and children 6 months to 4 years (66%).
Lastly, the survey showed individuals with health insurance were unsure whether in-home rapid COVID-19 tests (55%) or polymerase chain reaction COVID-19 tests sent to labs for results (61%) were covered.
Overall, “these partisan and vaccine status differences in perceptions of cases and testing for the virus are consistent with overall views of the pandemic that KFF has been tracking for the past 3 years,” wrote the investigators.