USF researchers release findings from statewide COVID-19 opinion survey regarding vaccine hesitancy and policy

Researchers from the University of South Florida’s School of Public Affairs have released results from a statewide survey that will help better understand the factors associated with vaccine reluctance and gauge political attitudes towards COVID-19 vaccines.

Among the most important findings:

The majority of adult Floridians have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, but many are still reluctant to get a vaccination. Of the adults who have not yet been vaccinated, 35.3% stated that they “probably not” or “definitely not” would be vaccinated. Another 24.3% are still undecided whether they should be vaccinated.

  • IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: Among respondents, 64.3% said they had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 35.7% had not. These data are provided as context for the remainder of the study, but the purpose of this survey was NOT to measure current vaccination rates. Only people over the age of 18 could take part in this survey, so these figures differ from the official vaccination figures. For the most accurate and up-to-date data on Florida vaccination rates, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Major causes of Floridians’ reluctance to vaccinate include concerns about the possible side effects of a vaccine and fears that vaccines may have been manufactured too quickly. Three quarters of those who say they “probably won’t” or “definitely not” will get the vaccine (74.2%) said they were concerned about the possible side effects of a vaccine. Almost half (50.5%) said they felt the vaccines were being made too quickly. Only a fifth (20.6%) don’t think the vaccines are effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Most Florida residents have not yet spoken to their GP about a COVID-19 vaccine. Only a third of respondents (32.3%) said they had spoken to their family doctor about whether a COVID-19 vaccination is suitable for them.

The majority of Floridians have encountered misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines in the past six months. Almost three-quarters of respondents (73.2%) said they saw or heard at least one of eight common misinformation topics related to COVID-19 vaccines. The most common misinformation topics included those claiming that “COVID-19 vaccines contain a ‘live strain’ of the virus” (42.8%), “COVID-19 vaccines contain 5G microchips” (38.5%) %) and “COVID-19 vaccines”. change people’s genes and change their DNA ”(36.3%).

Exposure to misinformation was correlated with a lower likelihood of vaccination. Of those who said they did not find any of the misinformation topics, 73.8% were vaccinated. Among those who experienced at least one source of misinformation, that number fell to 62.9%, while only half (52.2%) of those who encountered six or more false positives said they were vaccinated.

Florida’s remain divided over mandatory vaccines for college students. A majority of respondents agreed that Florida PK-12 schools should require vaccination before the fall, with 61.5% agreeing and 38.5% disagreeing. A two-thirds majority also supported compulsory vaccinations for Florida college students (68.8%).

Florida residents also disagree about mandatory vaccines for visitors to the theme park. Just under a third of respondents (30.5%) said that Florida theme parks should NOT be allowed to request proof of vaccination from guests, while a similar number (30%) said it should be required for entry to the park proof of vaccination should be required. A majority (39.5%) believe that the decision to require vaccinations should be left to the individual parks.

Mandatory vaccinations for cruises. Respondents were slightly more supportive of mandatory vaccines for cruise passengers entering the state. A majority of 43% said that proof of vaccination should be mandatory on all cruise lines in the state of Florida, while another 33.2% believed that the decision should be left to the individual cruise line to decide.

Partisan differences. The survey responses contained several notable partisan differences. Those who identified as Democrats were significantly more likely to be vaccinated (73.4% versus 58.5% of Republicans and 56.5% of Independents). Republicans and independents also clearly opposed vaccination requirements for theme park guests, cruise guests and students.

The survey included a representative sample of 600 Floridians conducted June 3-14, 2021. The results are reported with a confidence level of 95% and an error rate of +/- 4%.

A second round of results examining COVID-19 and hurricane preparation is expected to be released within the next week.

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