Getting the coronavirus vaccine in Colorado may depend on a person’s political party affiliation, with a new poll showing Republican voters are far less likely to get inoculated than their Democratic and unaffiliated counterparts.
Magellan Strategies found that only 55% of registered voters in Colorado who haven’t been inoculated yet want to receive a vaccine when it becomes available to them. The share rises to 89% among Democrats and 57% among unaffiliated voters.
Only 29% of Republicans, however, said they’d get a coronavirus vaccine, according to the poll. Meanwhile, 57% said they would not get inoculated while 12% said they were undecided.
“I think that the vaccination has, arguably, been politicized,” said David Flaherty, who leads Magellan Strategies, a political consulting group based in Louisville.
The vaccine question was posed to 420 registered voters as part of a broader poll conducted between Feb. 9 and Feb. 17. The responses to the question have a margin of error of 5 percentage points.
Colorado health officials are already working to convince communities of color that are skeptical of the vaccine that it’s safe. The partisan split, mirrored in other Colorado polling on the coronavirus vaccine, could add another element of difficulty to convincing enough people to get inoculated so that the pandemic fizzles out.
Dr. Eric France, chief medical officer at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said that the goal is to get 70% of the population vaccinated.
“I think if we keep up with our current pace we should be there,” he said on a call with reporters Thursday.
So far, demand for vaccines has been higher than supply, so the state hasn’t seen problems with people turning down the opportunity to get inoculated.
“There may be a time toward the end of all this effort where now we’ve got to work at encouraging people to be vaccinated,” he said. “But at this point, and probably for the next three to four months, it’s really just getting vaccines out because there’s all those people who want to get it.”
Magellan found that those who don’t want to get vaccinated mostly said they don’t trust the science behind the vaccine or think it’s unsafe. Others said they don’t believe it’s necessary.
“I honestly don’t care for a vaccine that targets a virus that has a 99.95% recovery rate,” one Republican, a millennial who lives in the suburbs, told Magellan. “I trust in my personal healthy lifestyle decisions, vitamins and immune system to do what it needs to do for me to flourish.”
Another Republican voter who is a man and lives in an urban area said: “Untested. Alters DNA.
NOT NEEDED. Current recovery percentage from COVID is 98% without vaccine.”
Among those who said they were undecided or unsure about getting the vaccine, Magellan said concern about safety and necessity were also paramount.
“I have made an appointment to have the vaccine administered, but am unsure as to whether it is safe for me to do so,” a Democratic woman who lives in a small town and is a baby boomer told Magellan.
Vaccines work by helping to train the immune system to better fight back against the coronavirus. Contrary to misinformation circulated on social media, none of the vaccines that have already been approved or that are in the pipeline alter people’s DNA.
And, while survivability is generally high among younger people who fall ill with COVID-19, the disease can also cause long-term organ and neurological damage, costly hospital stays and sometimes even permanent disability.
The full Magellan poll included 769 Colorado registered voters and had a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points. It was weighted to take into consideration the state’s demographic and voter registration breakdowns. As of February, 42% of Colorado voters were unaffiliated, 30% were registered as Democrats and 27% were registered as Republicans.
Sixty percent said they are very or somewhat concerned that someone in their family will become infected with coronavirus, and 66% said the pandemic has had a negative effect on their mental health.
Magellan also asked participants about their feelings toward the government’s response to COVID-19. They found that:
- 39% approved of the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic, while 59% disapproved and 2% said they had no opinion or didn’t know. Among Republicans, 83% approved of the former administration’s response, while just 3% of Democrats approved.
- 53% approved of the Biden administration’s handling of the pandemic, while 36% disapproved and 10% said they had no opinion or didn’t know.
- 56% approved of Gov. Jared Polis’ handling of the pandemic, while 37% disapproved and 7% said they had no opinion or didn’t know.
“The mid-50s is where we’ve had Jared Polis’ job approval for handling the coronavirus — it’s been very consistent for over a year,” Flaherty said. “It’s been mid- to upper-50s.”
Among unaffiliated voters, 60% said they approve of Polis’ response to coronavirus, while 34% said they disapprove and 6% said they had no opinion or didn’t know. Among Democrats, 79% said they approve of the governor’s handling of the pandemic, while 14% said they disapprove and 8% said they had no opinion or didn’t know.
Just 28% of Republicans said they approve of Polis’ pandemic response, with 65% saying they disapprove and 6% saying they had no opinion or didn’t know.
About half of those polled said they approve of the job their county and local governments are doing to address coronavirus.
“Trust in government I think is OK,” Flaherty said.
Magellan plans to release more surveys on Coloradans’ mood around coronavirus in the coming weeks.
Colorado Sun staff writer Lucy Haggard contributed to this report.