Goucher Poll Shows There’s Still Vaccination Hesitancy in Md.

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One year into the pandemic ― and about two months since the COVID-19 vaccine first became available to certain segments of the population ― some Marylanders are still hesitant to get a shot, according to a survey released Monday morning.

The latest poll from the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College found that 64% of Marylanders plan to to get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as they can or
have already received at least one dose.

But 15% of poll respondents said they want to wait and see whether the vaccine is working before signing up for shots, and 18% said they will only get it if required ― or won’t get the vaccine at all.

Still, that’s an improvement from the last Goucher poll, taken in October, when fewer than half of Maryland residents said they would agree to be vaccinated if an FDA-approved vaccine to prevent coronavirus were available at no cost.

The latest Goucher poll surveyed 725 Maryland adults from Feb. 23-28. The poll had a 3.6-point margin of error.

Mileah Kromer, director of the Goucher poll.

“Notably, our poll results also show that Black Marylanders are not significantly more hesitant to get the vaccine than their white counterparts,” said Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College. “There are, however, differences across party lines: Republicans are more resistant to taking the vaccine than Democrats. The big picture is that most Marylanders will get the vaccine as soon as it’s available to them.”

Sixty-two percent of Black residents surveyed said they planned to get the vaccine or have already gotten at least one dose, compared to 68% of white residents and 45% of Marylanders of other races. Seventy-one percent of Democrats said they want to get the vaccine or have already received at least one dose, compared to 54% Republicans and 76% of unaffiliated voters.

But Marylanders are generally unhappy with the job state government is doing in the distribution of the vaccine. Only a third say the state government is doing an excellent or good job and 66% think the state is doing a fair or poor job.

Those numbers are fairly consistent across geographic regions and demographic groups in the state. The one notable exception is among Republicans: 73% of registered GOP members surveyed said the state is doing a fair or poor job with the vaccine rollout; only 23% said the state is doing a good or excellent job.

But despite Maryland adults’ disappointment with the vaccine rollout, Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) continues to receive high marks for his management of the COVID-19 crisis.

More than three-quarters (77%) of Goucher poll respondents said they approve of how Hogan has handled the outbreak of the coronavirus in Maryland and 22% disapproved. That was a slight dip from the October poll, when 82% of Marylanders approved of Hogan’s handling of the outbreak.

Notably, Hogan’s approval rating is higher among independents (83%) and Democrats (81%) than it is from members of his own party (65%).

Partisan divides are also evident on the question of whether the state is reopening schools and businesses fast enough amid the pandemic.

Overall, 25% of survey respondents said the state is easing restrictions on businesses too slowly, 16% said too quickly, and 57% said the pace is about right. Sixty-six percent of Democrats said the pace is about right, compared to 37% of Republicans. Fifty-three percent of Republicans said the pace of reopenings is moving too slowly, while only 13% of Democrats gave that response.

There’s a gender gap and a race gap on this question as well.

Thirty-four percent of men said businesses are being allowed to reopen too slowly, 13% said too quickly, and 49% said about right. Among women, 19% said too slowly, 17% said too quickly, and 62% said about right.

70% of Black poll respondents said the pace of businesses reopenings is about right; 14% said it’s moving too slowly and 15% said too quickly. Among white adults, 50% said the pace is about right, compared to 32% who said too slowly and 16% who said too quickly.

Twenty-nine percent of poll respondents said public schools are reopening too slowly, while 31% said too quickly and 36% said the pace was about right. But only 11% of Democrats said the pace is too slow, while 65% of Republicans gave that response.

There’s a stark contrast between white and black voters on this question as well: 41% of white Marylanders said schools are reopening too slowly, while only 7% of Black residents gave that response. Half of Black survey respondents said the pace of school reopenings is about right, compared to 40% who said it was moving too quickly. Thirty-one percent of white adults said schools were being reopened at the right pace, while 23% said they were being reopened too quickly.

In the poll, Marylanders continued to express high levels of concern about themselves or a close family member contracting COVID-19. Seventy-one percent of Marylanders said they are “somewhat” or “very” concerned about themselves or a close family member contracting the virus, while 29% replied “not at all” or “a little” concerned.

The pandemic has clearly impacted Marylanders’ mental health and state of well-being, the Goucher poll found:

• 55% of poll respondents said they felt frustrated more often.
• 50% said they felt stressed more often.
• 45% said they felt sad more often.
• 33% said they felt angry more often.

Residents are divided about when the country will get the coronavirus under control and return to normal:

• 3% said they think it will be within the next month or two
• 13% said by the summer
• 39% said before the end of the year
• 34% predicted it will be later than this year
• 8% said never

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Josh Kurtz
Co-founder and Editor Josh Kurtz is the leading chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He later became an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent eight years at E&E News, an online subscription-only publisher of news websites covering energy and environmental issues. For seven of those years, he led a staff of 20 reporters at E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill and in national politics. For 6 1/2 years he wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz has given speeches and appeared on TV and radio shows about Maryland politics through the years.