Skeptic? Enthusiast? Survey looks at why people aren’t getting vaccinated

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The largest share of North Carolinians who have not yet been vaccinated are classified as COVID-19 skeptics, according to a survey from a nonprofit think tank and Facebook.

The survey of nearly 17,000 people across the country by Surgo Ventures and the social media giant sought to figure out what, if anything, is stopping people from getting the vaccine.


“We really wanted to understand at a state level, right, what were those state-specific barriers?” said Hannah Kemp, the director of programs at Surgo. “And also understand at a state level, what were the different personas of people who wanted to get the vaccine or not? And what was driving it to really help inform actually state-led strategies?”

Results of the survey were released this week, after it was conducted between February and early April. It found the unvaccinated tend to fall into one of five groups, each of whom likely requires a different strategy to persuade them:

ENTHUSIASTS: Those who want the vaccine but haven’t gotten it yet.

WATCHFUL: Those taking a wait-and-see approach.

COST-ANXIOUS: While the vaccine is free, they are concerned about the cost of missing work to get it.

SYSTEM DISTRUSTERS: Those who don’t believe members of their own race are treated fairly by the healthcare system.

COVID SKEPTICS: Those who believe conspiracy theories about the vaccine or downplay the severity of the virus.

“States look different, right, and they have different percentages of the different personas,” Kemp said.

The pie chart in North Carolina shows just over half of the state is vaccinated. Of the remainder, the largest chunk — 14.5 percent of the overall pie — consists of skeptics.

“We really actually need to use who they trust, and, and this group trusts their own doctors,” Kemp said.

The second-largest slice, at 13.8 percent, are the enthusiasts. That seems like a good thing — surely by now they would have been enthusiastic enough to actually get the vaccine between the time they completed the survey and now.

But why, then, does North Carolina still rank 37th nationally in its share of adults getting at least one dose of vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention?

“I think we have a lot of work to do in North Carolina,” said Dr. Mandy Cohen, state Department of Health and Human Services secretary. “We are doing our part to show vaccines are safe and easy to get.”

Another puzzling finding: The survey asked respondents what their primary barrier to vaccination. 

In North Carolina, the most popular answer was a lack of available appointments. But that’s no longer an issue for the vast majority of the state, with walk-in shots readily available.

“People were saying that this was a challenge,” Kemp said. “But what we also found was that people actually — before they even looked into whether or not they could get an appointment — they actually had to decide, right, ‘I want to get the vaccine,’ and then go out and get that information. 

“We actually have to get work on that what we’re calling ‘Intention First,’ make people actually say, ‘OK, you know what, I do want to get the vaccine, and I’m going to go and look for for how to get it.’”

CBS 17’s Joedy McCreary has been tracking COVID-19 figures since March 2020, compiling data from federal, state and local sources to deliver a clear snapshot of what the coronavirus situation looks like now and what it could look like in the future.

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