How do people feel COVID-19 vaccine rollout? The answer may depend on your age

Coronavirus

DENVER (KDVR) — Data may point to an obvious truth on the COVID-19 vaccine front: people who are more likely to get the vaccine are also more likely to approve of the whole program.

Most Americans think federal, state and local officials are botching the COVID-19 vaccine program, though Colorado’s performance is perceived to be better than most states’. There is at least a tenuous connection between age and vaccine program approval.

According to a Gallup poll, 66% of respondents said they were dissatisfied with the vaccination process. Respondents could mark four categories: very satisfied, satisfied, dissatisfied and very dissatisfied. U.S. adults were 4% very satisfied, 30% satisfied, 45% dissatisfied and 21% very dissatisfied.

Gallup broke out vaccine satisfaction by political affiliation but not age, sex or race. It found Republicans are most satisfied and independents least.

Republicans were split. There were 49% satisfied with the vaccine rollout and 51% dissatisfied. Of the four categories, Republicans were the only group to have a plurality of respondents mark satisfied, with 42%.

Independents, on the other hand, are furious. They were the only group to have any of the four categories a clear majority, with 57% responding “dissatisfied.” When the very dissatisfied responses are added it brings the total to 79% of independents who were unhappy.

Michael Berry, assistant professor and director of graduate studies at UC Denver’s Department of Political Science, said there are no simple explanations for the political affiliations. Data are simply too complex to nail down anything concrete.

Age, however, could play a factor, given that those 70+ are the vaccine’s priority.

“One hypothesis could be that older Americans tend to be more conservative and identify as Republicans relative to younger demographics, and because the elderly receive prioritization for the vaccination, Republicans may have been more likely to have already received one or two doses of the vaccine,” said Berry.

The same principle may also explain why independents have such a low regard for the national vaccine program.

“Younger Americans are more likely to identify as independents,” Berry said. “If the state government informs you that you’re at the end of the line for vaccination priority and may not be vaccinated for many months, that may influence impressions of the program’s overall effectiveness.”

Colorado’s most recent part registration lends some weight to Berry’s hypothesis.

As a party, Colorado Republicans have a higher number of voters over 65 years old than any other party. Unaffiliated Coloradans likewise have more registrants under the age of 54 years old than any party.

Other data hint at the same idea. On the whole, Colorado’s young people are more likely than the U.S. average to not want a vaccine according to recent Associated Press and U.S. Census Bureau studies.

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