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Poll: Marylanders split on COVID-19 vaccine

This image depicts a close view of the distal tips of three empty syringes. The syringe and needle is a very efficient method for delivering medications and vaccines. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention photo)

Marylanders are split on whether they would take a government-approved vaccine to fight the COVID-19 virus, a new poll reports. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention photo)

Almost half of Marylanders would not agree to receive a free, FDA-approved coronavirus vaccine if it were available today, according to the results of a Goucher Poll released Tuesday.

The poll, which surveyed 1,002 Maryland residents aged 18 or older, explored Marylanders’ views and attitudes on a host of issues related to the coronavirus pandemic and the government’s response to the virus.

The nearly even split mirrors national numbers; Gallup poll data published on Monday reports that 50% of Americans were willing to receive a vaccine as of late September, down from 61% in late August.

“When there is a sort of uncertainty and mixed messaging coming from the highest levels of government, it’s not surprising at all that you see this reflected in the population as a whole,” said Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher, noting that President Trump has repeatedly contradicted leading health officials regarding the development of a coronavirus vaccine.

She also noted that Marylanders in general are pro-vaccine, according to a 2015 Goucher Poll in which 95% of respondents agreed that “vaccines are effective at preventing disease” and 83% agreed that “non-vaccinated people pose a public health risk.”

Tuesday’s poll, which has a 3.1% margin of error, also concluded that 82% percent of Marylanders approve of how Gov. Larry Hogan has handled the pandemic while 16% disapprove. Kromer suggested that this is because Maryland has “taken a really measured approach” to COVID-19, especially when compared to the federal government.

Other findings included:

  • 58% feel that Maryland, which is currently in Phase 3 of its reopening plan, has reopened at approximately the right pace; 23% think the state reopened “too quickly,” and 16% think it did not reopen quickly enough.
  • 69% of people report some level of concern that they or a close family member will contract COVID-19, while 31% are “a little” or “not at all” concerned.
  • 58% have felt frustrated more often since the start of the pandemic; 57% have felt stressed more often; 33% have felt angry and sad more often; and 26% have felt lonely more often.
  • 55% say they have not faced financial hardship due to COVID-19, while 45% say that the pandemic has caused financial hardship, with 13% of participants calling this hardship severe and 32% calling it moderate.
  • 51% feel that the worst of the pandemic is behind us, while 40% think “the worst is yet to come.”

Additionally, Marylanders overwhelmingly believe that the actions of individuals, including wearing masks and social distancing, can help prevent the spread of the virus. Though there is a slight ideological split in who believes this — with 77% of self-identified conservatives agreeing as opposed to 91% of moderates and 99% of progressives —these findings demonstrate that mask-wearing and social distancing are not as controversial in Maryland as elsewhere.

“These viral moments … of somebody not wanting to wear a mask and getting in a fight with a supermarket clerk,” Kromer said. “Those are the exceptions and not the rule.”

The study was conducted from Sept. 30 to Oct. 4. Goucher College previously released parts one and two of the poll, which addressed the presidential election and policing, respectively.

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