Vaccine distribution is down, both in New Hampshire and across the nation. Two weeks ago, about 3.3 million Americans were getting a vaccine shot every day. That number’s fallen below 2.8 million. The Wall Street Journal reports that among first-dose recipients, the number fell from a seven-day average of 1.9 million on April 11 to 1.4 million on April 17.
Here in the Granite State, there are plenty of appointments available for shots, but not enough people signing up for them.
And, some people say, it’s all Donald Trump’s fault. They blame vaccine hesitancy on Trump-supporting Republicans who, some polls show, are reluctant to take the shot. A recent University of New Hampshire survey found the group most likely to just say no to getting the jab in the Granite State is Trump supporters, followed closely by Republicans and conservatives.
Almost Certainly Not or Probably Not Get Vaccinated When COVID-19 Vaccine is Offered – By Demographics – March 2021
So, do Republicans have a vaccine resistance problem? When NHJournal asked GOP Gov. Chris Sununu that question, he adamantly denied partisanship was part of the problem.
“The vaccine is not political at all,” Sununu said.”You can make the same argument that young people are likely to take the vaccine at a disproportionately lower rate. You can split up those demographics in a variety of different ways.”
Sununu may be onto something. While national polling consistently finds Trump-leaning voters more likely than the average to say they’re avoiding the vaccine, they’re hardly outliers. A new MorningConsult survey of 30,000 Americans found mothers, adults under 45 years old who earn less than $50,000 annually, and Black adults without college degrees are in the same category as Republicans when it comes to saying they’re unsure or unwilling to get vaccinated.
Willing/Unsure/Unwilling to Get COVID Vaccine by Race
But Dr. Andrew Smith, director of the UNH Survey Center, says politics is playing a role. “I think that the difference is partisan and it’s not unique to New Hampshire,” he told NHJournal, linking a national survey from March finding “only about half of conservative Republicans and fewer than half of evangelicals trust that the vaccines are safe and effective, compared with nearly two-thirds of other adults.”
Smith says the UNH Survey Center has been tracking the trend “for more than a year as COVID response became more and more partisan during the election and it has continued into the Biden administration.”
Skeptics of the partisan-politics view of vaccine hesitancy point out that African-Americans are showing the same reluctance to say they’ll take the shot. In New Hampshire, there’s not enough demand among people of color for the vaccine supply set aside in the name of “equity” to use the shots.
And, Sununu and others argue, polling tends to tighten partisanship. People will tell pollsters all sorts of things.
“That question is asked with the purpose of defining us as ‘Republican versus Democrat’ when it comes to the vaccine,” Sununu said. “I think that’s horribly irresponsible. I don’t adhere to that political nonsense in any way.”
What matters isn’t what people say, but what they do. And in New Hampshire, people are getting the vaccine. In fact, the county with the highest vaccination rate — Coos — was also one of Trump’s best last November. Then again, the second-best county for vaccinations (Grafton) went big for Biden.
One more data point: Of the 20 states with the highest vaccination rates — led by New Hampshire at number one — the number that backed Trump in November is…zero.
Wherever the vaccine reluctance is coming from, it poses a problem for the entire country if it prevents the arrival of herd immunity. However, even that will resolve itself as the virus moves through the unvaccinated community.
As Drew Cline of the Josiah Bartlett Center tweeted Monday: “Our options are: 1. Get to herd immunity the slow & hard way (lots of people getting sick & dying). 2. Get to herd immunity the quick & easy way (lots of people getting vaccinated).”