Survey: Misinformation, party affiliation driving vaccination decisions
Image via AP.

Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine
A USF survey found the more people are exposed to misinformation, the less likely they are to get a jab.

A majority of Floridians have received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, but many still remain hesitant about the jab, according to a newly released survey from the University of South Florida.

The statewide survey, conducted by researchers with the university’s School of Public Affairs, sought to understand why Floridians may be hesitant about the COVID-19 vaccine, as well as examine attitudes toward policies related to vaccines.

Overall, 64% of respondents reported receiving at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, leaving 36% who have not.

The survey found that among adults who have not yet been vaccinated in the state, 35% say they will “probably not” or “definitely not” get vaccinated, and another 24% are still undecided.

So, why are Floridians hesitant?

The survey found that the highest driver of vaccine hesitancy included concerns over potential side effects and fears the vaccines were created too quickly. Of those who said they won’t or likely won’t get vaccinated, 74% cited concerns of side effects, more than 50% feared the quickness of creation and 21% don’t believe the vaccines are effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19.

There is also a problem with misinformation around the vaccine, the survey found.

While only one-third (32%) of total respondents report having spoken with their primary care doctor about the COVID-19 vaccine, a majority of Floridians have encountered misinformation about the vaccine in the past six months. 

The survey found that 73% of respondents reported seeing or hearing at least one of eight common misinformation themes related to COVID-19 vaccines. The most frequently encountered falsehoods include: “COVID-19 vaccines contain a ‘live strain’ of the virus” (43%), “COVID-19 vaccines contain 5G Microchips” (38.5%), and “COVID-19 vaccines modify people’s genes and alter their DNA” (36%).

Seeing misinformation was correlated with a decreased likelihood of undergoing vaccination.  

Among those who did not report encountering any sources of misinformation, 74% had been vaccinated. That number fell to 63% among those encountering at least one source of misinformation. Only slightly more than half of those (52%) encountering six or more false stories reported being vaccinated

A majority of Floridians favor mandatory vaccinations for students. About two-thirds (61%) of respondents agreed that Florida’s PreK-12 schools should require students to be vaccinated before the fall, and even more (69%) favored mandatory vaccinations for Florida’s college students.

Similar numbers were found for requiring vaccinations for theme park visitors. Just under a third of respondents (30%) said Florida’s theme parks should not be allowed to require guests to provide proof of vaccination, while 30% felt that proof of vaccination should be required. About 40%, however, felt that the decision to require vaccinations should be left to individual parks.

The survey also looked at attitudes around cruise vaccine policies, an issue that has continued to draw scrutiny from lawmakers. Despite the rhetoric from state leadership, the survey reported that 43% of Floridians say proof of vaccination should be mandatory on all cruises porting in the state of Florida, while another 33% felt the decision should be left to individual cruise lines.

The responses from participants varied based on political affiliation, the survey found. Those who identified as Democrats were significantly more likely to have been vaccinated (73%, compared to 58% of Republicans and 56% of independents). 

And, Republicans and independents were also significantly more likely to oppose mandatory vaccinations for theme park guests, cruise line guests and students. 

The poll included a representative sample of 600 Floridians, surveyed June 3-14. Results are reported with a confidence level of 95% and a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

A second round of results, which examines COVID-19 and hurricane preparedness, is set to be released within the next week.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected]


6 comments

  • John

    June 16, 2021 at 8:56 pm

    The survey and conclusions are in error. Those that have not taken it are the critical thinking population.

  • Will R

    June 17, 2021 at 3:53 am

    People who may or may not believe misinformation about the vaccines are no worse than the media and medical establishment perpetuating misinformation that denies the role of natural immunity. You see, there are consequences to lying to the public, namely loss of credibility.

  • Ron Ogden

    June 17, 2021 at 6:29 am

    Science in the generic sense has lost credibility about Covid. Science cannot be blamed for not instantly knowing all there was to know about it from the start. That isn’t realistic. From the start, however, science has ACTED like it knows all there is to know about it, and that has led to bad decisions from government and bad politics from the media.

  • Edward Lyle

    June 17, 2021 at 9:32 am

    Please… the “survey” itself is a misinformation campaign. Everyone one knows that the highest percentage per-capita of those passing on the 2 shots of sugar water and fertilizer runoff are found in our “communities of color”.

    Choosing not to be a guinea pig for the Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex has nothing to do with political party affiliation.

    You want to “blame” someone?… start with Dr. Fraudci

  • JoAnne

    June 17, 2021 at 4:04 pm

    Perhaps there would not be vaccine hesitancy if more truth was told about it. Have read studies on the NIH website so definitely know what these vaccines are about. It would be very helpful if people who have had Covid are acknowledged as people unlikely to need or get a vaccine. Demanding people get the vaccine doesn’t work and appears hysterical particularly from vaccinated people.

  • Travis

    June 22, 2021 at 5:36 am

    These injections do not stop the spread then increase the spread. They do not stop anyone from getting it, they just muffle the symptoms so people will walk spreading it and not even know because the symptoms are being suppressed. Vaccinated people are now super spreaders who should be forced into quarantine until we know that they will not be hazardous. Vaccinated people are horribly selfish because they will now be transmitting it unto our most vulnerable.

Comments are closed.


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