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More Than Half Of Unvaccinated Idahoans Say They Definitely Won't Get The COVID-19 Vaccine

A nurse injects someone's arm with a vaccine.
Richard Villalon
Adobe Stock

Idaho just crossed an important vaccination threshold — about half of adults have gotten at least one dose. But of those who are unvaccinated, more than half say they can't be swayed to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

In a recent survey of 300 Idaho adults who hadn't yet been vaccinated, 55% of respondents said they definitely wouldn't get the shot. About 20% said they probably wouldn't get it and another 20% said they likely would, eventually.

The survey, conducted in the beginning of June, is the third round by Boise-based GS Strategy Group, a firm the state hired for vaccine hesitancy research. The state is using the research to shape its vaccination messaging and strategy in hopes they will encourage more Idahoans to choose to get the vaccine.

Idaho ranks in the bottom 10 states for vaccination rates among the total population and the 18-and-older population.

Many of the roughly 40% of people who said they want to get the vaccine or who are "persuadable" want to wait and see how vaccinations go for others because they're worried about long-term side effects.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says long-term side effects from the COVID-19 vaccines are "extremely unlikely," and about 150 million Americans are fully vaccinated.

GS Strategy said Idahoans' negative perceptions about vaccine side effects shot up after the Johnson and Johnson vaccine was paused in April for a safety review. Though the pause only lasted 10 days, the concerns about vaccine safety in general haven't gone away.

Still, the survey found continuous messaging that the vaccines are rigorously tested and safe is the most effective way to communicate about the vaccines to unvaccinated Idahoans.

Most unvaccinated people in Idaho are not concerned about getting COVID-19, so they feel little urgency to get the shot.

That means people will likely decide to get immunized on their own timeline, or they might be convinced by something like a vaccine receiving FDA approval — beyond emergency use authorization.

The research also highlighted an opportunity to make vaccinations more convenient for Idaho workers. Many respondents who said they're likely to get the vaccine, but haven't so far, said they haven't had the time to take off of work.

Employers should be offering time off to employees who want to get vaccinated, but are worried about missing work, GS Strategy Group concluded.

Last week, Gov. Brad Little announced state employees who get the vaccine in the next two months can get half a day of paid time off.

Idaho hasn't announced any other statewide incentives to encourage people to get vaccinated. But the recent survey of unvaccinated Idahoans suggests that move might not make a difference.

More than 90% of the people who said they definitely won't get the vaccine aren't persuaded by vaccine incentives that range from free guns or jet skis to thousands of dollars in lottery money.

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

Copyright 2021 Boise State Public Radio

As the south-central Idaho reporter, I cover the Magic and Wood River valleys. I also enjoy writing about issues related to health and the environment.