A new survey released June 14 finds much lower COVID-19 vaccination rates among those without health insurance, even though the vaccines are free.
The report by the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University found that 55.6% of adults with health insurance had gotten at least one COVID-19 shot, compared to 30.6% of adults without health insurance.
Many respondents, according to the poll, “mistakenly believe that they have to pay for the vaccine,” meaning public officials need a far “more robust public health messaging.”
Rutgers relied on 1,500 adults across the country, surveyed between April 7 and 12.
“Those who are white, highly educated and have higher incomes are getting the COVID-19 vaccine at disproportionately higher rates compared with people of color, those with lower educational attainment, and those with lower incomes,” reads a statement from Soumitra Bhuyan, an assistant professor at Bloustein who headed the study.
The poll found that 55.7% of white people had gotten the vaccine, compared to 38.9% of African American respondents and 43.2% of Hispanics. As income and education level went up, so too did the likelihood that the respondent has gotten the vaccine, according to polling data.
Vaccination rates nationwide – and in New Jersey – have largely fallen in line with those demographics, with African American and Hispanic communities lagging in getting the vaccine. Many Black and Brown New Jerseyans said they are still not willing to get the vaccine–and at a much higher rate than other demographics.
The shots are a key step to permanently lifting the myriad of restrictions on businesses, public gatherings and travel that have been in place over the past 15 months to halt the spread of the virus.
Gov. Phil Murphy’s self-imposed goals call for fully vaccinating 4.7 million adults by June 30 – 70% of the state’s adult population – just 15 days from now. After that, the focus will switch to New Jerseyans in the 12- to 17-year-old age group.
Interest has lagged over the past month due to hesitancy along racial lines and broader anxiety about the shot, outright vaccine denial and barriers for people – particularly those with lower incomes – to get vaccinated. Efforts to encourage that final round of inoculations include intense public messaging, incentives, perks, bringing vaccine sites to local neighborhoods and sites like religious establishments, and outreach to minority communities.