The latest iteration of the United States Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey provides an opportunity to observe what Arkansans think about receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Residents vaccinated or intending to be vaccinated and those hesitating about receiving a vaccine are viewed through the lens of age, race, and gender.

Graph 1:

According to Image 1, a smaller percentage of Arkansans received or planned to receive a COVID-19 vaccine compared to the United States as a whole. Put another way, roughly 1 in every 3 Arkansans are currently unlikely to be vaccinated, compared to 1 in every 5 Americans.

Graph 2:

Image 2 indicates at least 60% of Arkansans, regardless of age, race, or gender, have been or plan to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Respondents age 65 or over are substantially more likely to have received or plan to receive the vaccine than individuals in the other age subgroups. These results possibly indicate that younger respondents see vaccination as unnecessary or possess doubts about its efficacy.

The percentage of Arkansans vaccinated or intending to get vaccinated varied little across racial lines. Approximately 70% of Whites and individuals in the Other subgroup (primarily those self-identifying as Hispanic) said they received or planned to take a vaccine. Black or African Americans trailed slightly behind at 65%. Males are almost 10% more likely than women to be vaccinated or seek vaccination.

Responses from Arkansans hesitant to receive a vaccine are charted in Graphs 3, 4, and 5. Participants selected any of the ten reasons provided on the survey to explain their reluctance. Reasons are abbreviated to save space.

Original reasons on the survey:

  • I don’t like vaccines
  • I am concerned about the possible side effects of a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • I don’t know if a COVID-19 vaccine will help
  • I don’t believe I need a COVID-19 vaccine
  • My doctor has not recommended it
  • I don’t trust COVID-19 vaccines
  • I am concerned about the cost of a COVID-19 vaccine
  • I plan to wait and see if it is safe and may get it later
  • I think other people need it more than I do right now
  • I don’t trust the government
  • Other

Graph 3:

Vaccine safety was the top concern for respondents in Chart 3. 50% of individuals surveyed cited Possible side effects and 39% selected Will wait and see if it is safe as reasons for hesitating. Other prominent reasons included mistrust of the vaccine and government and questions about the vaccine’s usefulness. Safety concerns and distrust of the vaccine effort may diminish as vaccines prove effective and become widely available.

Graph 4

As indicated in Graph 4, all age groups cite safety concerns and mistrust of government and vaccines as the top reasons for not getting vaccinated. However, there is considerable variation among subgroups. Respondents in the 45-64 age group distrust the vaccine and the government, while almost 60% of 18-44-year-olds fear possible side effects from taking the vaccine, nearly 12 percentage points higher than those age 45-64 and 25 points higher than those 65 and over. The youngest group is also more likely to dislike vaccines and believe they are unnecessary.

Graph 5

Blacks are the only subgroup of Arkansans surveyed that did not select government mistrust as one of their top reasons for resisting the vaccine. A higher percentage of African Americans doubted the vaccine’s effectiveness (22%), and 48% of Blacks, close to ten percentage points more than the other subgroups, supported the Will wait and see if it is safe approach to taking the vaccine.

A noticeably smaller percentage of individuals in the Other subgroup named Don’t trust COVID-19 vaccines than Black and White respondents and Whites had the highest rate of individuals citing mistrust of government as a reason for delaying or avoiding a vaccine. Despite some notable differences, similar percentages of Arkansans chose similar reasons for hesitating, regardless of racial identity.

Graph 6

While Graph 6 shows that both genders share safety concerns and mistrust of government and vaccines as their top reasons for avoiding vaccination, percentages between men and women sometimes varied widely. Almost 60% of women compared with 39% of men named Possible side effects and only 28% of men versus 49% of women opted to Wait and see if it is safe. Percentage differences in responses to the other reasons provided are far less pronounced. However, men edged out women in the percentage of respondents who felt they did not need the vaccine and distrusted government.

Despite differences across racial, age, and gender lines, most Arkansans hesitant about COVID-19 vaccines cite vaccine safety and mistrust of government and the vaccine process as chief reasons behind their concerns. Vaccination efforts that address these fears should be more effective.

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