Boosting the COVID-19 vaccination rate: could Donald Trump make a difference?

June 29, 2021, 1:55 PM GMT+0

About two-thirds of American adults have now received at least one COVID-19 shot with the daily rate of vaccination decreasing nationwide. In the latest Economist/YouGov poll, 59% of Republicans say they are fully or partially vaccinated. By comparison, 65% of US adults overall and 83% of Democrats say the same.

Republicans are the most likely group to say they will not get vaccinated (28%), compared to 16% of Americans overall. The relatively high rate of Republican resistance has many wondering: could former President Donald Trump help increase the vaccination rate?

One consistent finding in the Economist/YouGov polls is that those who reject the COVID-19 vaccine have more confidence and trust in medical advice from the former president (53%) than in the advice of current President Joe Biden (7%), his chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci (9%), or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (11%). A majority of vaccine rejectors trust President Trump’s advice, while majorities of them distrust the advice of the others asked about in the poll.

For Americans overall, the Centers for Disease Control is most trusted. Just about half (52%) trust the agency, but opinion of all three of the individuals asked about is heavily politicized, and none of them are trusted by most of the public.

But would those who do not plan to get vaccinated listen to Trump if he made a major effort to convince them to be vaccinated? Half of them know he supports vaccination against COVID-19 (President Trump’s “Operation Warp Speed” sped up the development of the vaccines).

Many aren’t sure of the fact that Trump was vaccinated. Mr. Trump has made several statements about the value of the vaccine – and about his involvement in the vaccine development. He and his wife Melania were vaccinated in January.

About half of Americans overall (54%) believe Trump was vaccinated for COVID-19, something that most Republicans (57%) believe, as well. But there is a high degree of uncertainty or doubt, especially among those who are unsure about vaccination themselves.

Just over one-third of those who will not get vaccinated (36%) or who are unsure (37%) believe that Trump got the COVID-19 vaccine. Even more are unsure (45% and 42% respectively). About one in five for each group (19% and 21%) believe Trump was not vaccinated.

Even knowing that President Trump supports the vaccine and has been vaccinated himself doesn’t change the minds of most of those who currently refuse to be vaccinated. Very few (3%) say they would be swayed if President Trump urged them to get the injection.

In fact, very few vaccine resisters say anything would change their minds, though cash is the most likely to do that (9%). There is more openness to change among those who now say they aren’t sure they will get vaccinated. While few of them would change their minds, many more claim they are open to doing that.

See the toplines and crosstabs from this Economist/YouGov poll

Related: How Trump has redefined conservatism

Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 US Adult Citizens interviewed online between June 20 - 22, 2021. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens. The margin of error is approximately 3.0% for the overall sample.

Image: Getty