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About One in Six New Jerseyans Say They Won’t Get COVID-19 Vaccine

Trey A. Dix (RWJMS '22)
The large number of Garden State residents getting vaccinated is a drastic change from the widespread vaccine hesitancy last fall before Pfizer and Moderna’s initial news of successful vaccine trials.
Nick Romanenko/Rutgers University

Two-thirds of parents will definitely or probably vaccinate their children or have done so


Seventy-three percent of New Jerseyans say they have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and while another 10 percent say they will likely roll up their sleeve for it, 16 percent remain unwilling, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll.

The large number of Garden State residents getting vaccinated is a drastic change from the widespread vaccine hesitancy last fall before Pfizer and Moderna’s initial news of successful vaccine trials.

Older residents, higher-income residents, and residents with higher levels of education are all more likely than their counterparts to say they have received at least one dose of a vaccine, as are exurban (81 percent), suburban (77 percent), and urban (75 percent) residents compared to those living in other regions of the state. Republicans (32 percent) and independents (34 percent) are twice as likely as Democrats (16 percent) to report not getting a dose yet.

Among people unwilling to get vaccinated, 67 percent cite a concern about side effects (down from 80 percent), 58 percent cite a distrust in the government and 57 percent cite the belief that the vaccines were developed and tested too quickly as “major reasons” for their resistance.

Fifty-five percent of those vaccine-hesitant say a “major reason” is that they feel they do not need it (up from 25 percent). Forty-nine percent cite wanting to know more about how the vaccine works (down from 82 percent), and 47 percent cite seeing too many mistakes from the medical system in the past as “major reasons.” Thirty-three percent say a “major reason” is that they simply do not get vaccines in general.

When asked what would make them more likely to get the vaccine, 49 percent of those currently unwillingly say nothing would change their mind; 8 percent mention the need for more information, and 7 percent say they simply need more time.

“The enduring nature of vaccine hesitancy for a small yet notable portion of the population in New Jersey resembles what we are seeing throughout the rest of the country,” said Ashley Koning, an assistant research professor and director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling (ECPIP) at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. “And while some of those unwilling may ultimately be convinced, others may not. Unfortunately, we know from current data that infection, hospitalization, and death rates are currently much higher for those who are unvaccinated compared to those who are immunized.”

Among those vaccinated, 50 percent experienced no side effects; the rest mostly experienced mild (31 percent) or moderate (15 percent) side effects, while just 5 percent had severe ones.

Among parents in the Garden State, 36 percent say they will definitely get their child vaccinated when a vaccine is available for their child’s age group; another 22 percent say they will probably get their child vaccinated; and 7 percent have already gotten their child vaccinated. Just over half (53 percent) say they will get their child vaccinated right away, while 43 percent say they will wait to see how the vaccines work; 4 percent are unsure.

Seventy-two percent of New Jerseyans say they and/or someone they know has tested positive or been officially diagnosed with coronavirus. Among those who do not know someone who tested positive, 20 percent say they and/or someone they know most likely had coronavirus despite no official diagnosis or test.

Concern over the coronavirus is at an all-time low. Forty-one percent are worried (14 percent “very,” 27 percent “somewhat”) that they or someone in their household will get sick from the coronavirus; this is down considerably from the fall (30 percent “very,” 41 percent “somewhat”).

Results are from a statewide poll of 1,004 adults contacted by live interviewers on landlines and cell phones from May 21–29. The full sample has a margin of error of +/- 3.8 percentage points.