Study finds more people accept vaccines under church guidance

CDC (Unsplash)

Hesitancy and refusal seem to be affected by frequency of attendance at religious services.

For many religious believers, a Church statement or action encouraging vaccination against Covid-19 makes a big difference.

That seems to be the upshot from the second of two public opinion polls conducted among members of faith groups over the course of three months. The surveys, conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, focused on the “vaccine hesitant” and “vaccine refusers.”

Released July 28, as the federal government and several state governments began new measures to forestall another wave of the coronavirus pandemic, especially with the spread of an apparently more contagious Delta variant, the survey found that faith-based approaches supporting vaccine uptake can — and did — influence members of key hesitant groups to get vaccinated.

“Refusals have held steady across most demographic groups, although some subgroups have become significantly less likely to say they will refuse to get vaccinated, including, notably, black Protestants (19% said they would refuse in March; 13% said they would refuse in June) and Republicans (23% said they would refuse in March; 19% said they would refuse in June),” said an executive summary of the findings.

One of the most dramatic changes took place among Hispanic Catholics, who increased their vaccine acceptance from 56% to 80% between March and June.

White Catholics’ acceptance rate rose to 79%, up from 68% in March.

Overall, two-thirds of Americans (67%) report having received at least one dose of a vaccine, and another 4% say they will get vaccinated as soon as possible. Less than one in five (15%) are hesitant, a decrease from 28% in March, and 13% say they will not get vaccinated, similar to the 14% who said they would not get vaccinated in March.

Faith-based approaches have the potential to be effective for hesitant and refusing groups, PRRI said. There is also evidence these strategies have impacted decisions.

“Nearly four in ten vaccine hesitant Americans who attend religious services at least a few times a year (38%) say one or more faith-based approaches would make them more likely to get vaccinated, said the group.

“White Catholics who are vaccine hesitant have become more than twice as likely to say one or more faith-based approaches could sway them (31%) than they were in March (15%). Of those who are vaccinated, 15% of white Catholics, and 25% among those who attend religious services, say one or more faith-based approaches mattered,” said the summary.

Among vaccinated Hispanic Catholics who attend Mass regularly, 45% credited faith-based influences in making a decision to get vaccinated.

“As for those who remain vaccine hesitant, some groups show an increased willingness to heed faith-based encouragement. For example, white Catholics are now twice as likely to say they could be nudged into getting a vaccine via religious methods (31%) than earlier this year (15%),” said Religion News Service in its report on the survey.

Source: Study finds more people accept vaccines under church guidance (aleteia.org)

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