By Ross Ramsey, Texas Tribune
Most Texas voters believe vaccines are safe and effective, but 28% do not plan to get a COVID-19 vaccine when it’s available to them, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.
A solid majority (61%) agree that “in general … vaccines are safe.” That includes majorities of both Democrats (74%) and Republicans (54%). Asked whether vaccines are generally effective, 63% said yes, including 78% of Democrats and 56% of Republicans. More than half (56%) said that vaccines are both safe and effective, including 71% of Democrats and 48% of Republicans.
Even so, 36% said they’ll get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as it’s available to them, 28% said they will not, and 16% said they’re not sure. Another 15% said they’ve already been vaccinated, meaning just over half have either been vaccinated or are planning to be when they can. In a poll last June, 59% said they would get a COVID-19 vaccine if it was available at low cost; in the October 2020 UT/TT Poll, that number fell to 42%.
Health experts estimate 75% to 90% of Texans would need to achieve immunity to COVID-19 for the state to reach herd immunity. Pfizer and Moderna reported their vaccines are 95% and 94% effective, respectively, at protecting people from symptomatic COVID-19, and clinical trials for both Pfizer and Moderna show serious reactions are rare.
“We’re worried about supply, but there is clearly a demand problem hiding in the data,” said Joshua Blank, research director for the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin.
Men (41%) were more likely than women (33%) to say they’ll get vaccinated. And white (38%) and Hispanic voters (37%) were more likely to say so than Black voters (28%).
“The ‘nos’ and ‘unsures’ — that’s 44% — and that’s a scary number,” said Daron Shaw, co-director of the poll and a government professor at UT-Austin.
Among the poll respondents, 40% said they are currently eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, 34% said they’re not and the rest were unsure. Older voters were more aware than younger voters: 89% of voters over 64 years old said they are eligible and only 9% were unsure; among 18- to 29-year olds, for example, 26% said they are eligible and 35% were unsure.
Almost half of Texas voters (48%) said efforts to distribute the vaccine are going either very or somewhat well, while 32% said those efforts are going badly.
The University of Texas/Texas Tribune internet survey of 1,200 registered voters was conducted from Feb. 12-18 and has an overall margin of error of +/- 2.83 percentage points. Numbers in charts might not add up to 100% because of rounding.