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12% of Americans will still 'definitely not' get COVID-19 vaccine, survey finds

The COVID-19 vaccine has been a topic of controversy, despite health officials saying it is the nation's most effective way to beat the pandemic.

SEATTLE — COVID-19 vaccinations continue to rise, and recent data shows case rates and the number of hospitalizations are responding with noticeable declines over the last week.

Paired with public masking while indoors and in crowded outdoor settings, the COVID-19 vaccine appears to have stemmed yet another wave of COVID-19 in Washington caused by the highly contagious delta variant.

State and local health officials have sounded like broken records for weeks, repeating the same mantra day after day: the only way the pandemic ends is if more people get vaccinated. Still, there are those who refuse despite being eligible and having no medical or religious reason not to get the shot.

The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) released the results of a survey Tuesday that focused on who is and isn’t getting vaccinated and the reasons behind their decisions.

The KFF said that its latest COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor, which interviewed a nationally representative sample of 1,519 adults from Sept. 13-22, revealed about 72% of American adults reported having at least initiated vaccination.

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According to the KFF survey, the most recent vaccinations have been mostly motivated by hospitalizations and deaths, especially of family and friends. In fact, the survey found that, after May, those living in counties with high caseloads and COVID-19 deaths were more likely to say they have been vaccinated than those in counties with fewer deaths and cases.

Meanwhile, the survey found that about 12% of Americans still say they will “definitely not” get the vaccine. Paired with demographic data from the same survey, KFF found that these Americans most likely identify as Republican, uninsured and under 65 years old or white Evangelical Christian.

"We’re tired of seeing this needless suffering and this tragedy and this loss of life. And we have the solution. We have a safe, very, very effective vaccine that will keep you from coming into the hospital," said Dr. Daniel Getz, chief medical officer of Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, during a Washington Department of Health briefing Wednesday.

The largest increase in vaccine uptake from July to September was among Hispanic adults as well as those ages 18-29.

The survey also found that the vaccine is distributed more evenly among racial groups with 71% of white adults, 10% of Black adults and 73% of Hispanic adults reporting vaccinations. The survey found that the largest gaps in vaccine uptake remain in areas of political party, education level, age and health insurance status.

Health officials continue to urge those still unsure about the vaccine to seek more information from experts in the health care field. 

"Please sideline one of us. Sideline a family member or a respected friend that works in health care and ask them your questions. We want to help answer those questions because the vaccine is overwhelmingly safe," said Getz Wednesday. 

Recently, numerous vaccine mandates have been announced whether federally by President Joe Biden, statewide by Gov. Jay Inslee or locally by King County Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin. Views surrounding mandates and requirements are largely split along a partisan divide as well, the survey found.

While more than 80% of Democrats support mandates for health care workers, state employees and school staff, only about 30% of Republicans agree.

One in five workers said their employer is requiring the COVID-19 vaccine, but half said they don’t want the requirement.

Current mandates in Washington state include vaccine requirements for most state employees, city of Seattle employees, King County employees, health care workers and school staff.

In Washington state, more than 76% of the eligible population has received at least one dose of the vaccine as of Sept. 27, with 69.7% of the eligible population fully vaccinated.

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