How views on COVID vaccination have caused divides in American families and friendships

September 22, 2021, 10:01 PM UTC

Vaccination status, and opinion on COVID-19 vaccination, is coming in between many Americans’ friendships and family relationships.

Some vaccinated people are no longer associating with unvaccinated friends and family members; fewer unvaccinated people are severing ties with vaccinated friends and family members, though it’s unusually common among men.

More than one in four of vaccinated American adults who have friends or family members who are unvaccinated say in the latest Economist/YouGov poll that they have stopped associating with at least one of these friends or family members because they are not vaccinated. Democrats are twice as likely as Republicans to say they have done this, among people who are vaccinated and have unvaccinated close friends or family members.

Far fewer unvaccinated adults who have friends or family members who have been vaccinated have stopped associating with at least one of them (8%) – with men (14%) far more likely than women (2%) to have done this. 

COVID-19

Even more striking is the way vaccinated Americans view people who are unvaccinated. More than a third of American adults say they “cannot understand their decision to not get vaccinated.” That includes 53% of people who are now fully vaccinated, but just 13% among the rest of the population.

Vaccinated adults’s views on understanding and associating with people who are not vaccinated may help explain a finding that has remained consistent in recent weeks: People who aren’t fully vaccinated and also aren’t sure they want to remain unvaccinated are the least likely to say their close friends and family members know their status. Sharing it could cost them important relationships.

See the toplines and crosstabs from this Economist/YouGov poll

MethodologyThe Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 U.S. Adult Citizens interviewed online between September 18 - 21, 2021. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. 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 U.S. citizens. The margin of error is approximately 2.9% for the overall sample. 

Image: Getty