Why Some Americans Are Still Hesitant to Get Vaccinated

Why Some Americans Are Still Hesitant to Get Vaccinated
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Why Some Americans Are Still Hesitant to Get Vaccinated

Why Some Americans Are Still Hesitant to Get Vaccinated

CHICAGO – They admitted that they could have presented themselves months ago. Many were convinced that they were finally doing the right thing. A few growled that they had no choice.

In just one day last week, more than half a million people across the United States flocked to high school gyms, drugstores and buses converted to mobile clinics. Then they rolled up their sleeves and received their coronavirus shots.

It is the Americans who are being vaccinated at this moment of the pandemic: the reluctant, the anxious, the procrastinating.

In dozens of interviews Thursday in eight states, at vaccination clinics, drugstores and pop-up mobile sites, Americans who had finally arrived to get vaccinated offered a snapshot of a nation at a crossroads – facing to a new wave of the virus but only slowly adopting the vaccines that could stop it.

Those vaccinated now are not among the enthusiastic crowds that have flocked to first dates. But they are also not part of the group strongly opposed to vaccinations.

Instead, they occupy common ground: For months, they refused to receive a coronavirus vaccine, until something or someone – a persistent family member, a demand for work, a growing feeling that the vaccine was safe – convinces them otherwise.

How many people ultimately join this group, and how quickly, could determine the course of the coronavirus in the United States.

Some of the newly vaccinated said they made the decision abruptly, if not casually, after months of inaction. A woman in Portland, Oregon was waiting for an incentive before getting the shot, and when she learned that a pop-up clinic in a farmers market was handing out $ 150 gift cards, she decided it was time . A 60-year-old man from Los Angeles spontaneously stopped to get the shot because he noticed that for once there was no line at a clinic. A construction worker said his schedule made it difficult to shoot.

Many people said they arrived for a vaccine after intense pressure from family and friends.

“’You are going to die. Get the Covid vaccine,” Grace Carper, 15, recently told her mother, Nikki White, of Urbandale, Iowa, as they debated when to get the vaccine. Ms. White , 38, woke up on Thursday and said she would. “If you want to go get the shot, get up,” Ms White told her daughter, who was anxious to get the shot, and the couple went to a Hy-Vee supermarket together.

Others were moved by practical considerations: an intention to attend college that requires students to be vaccinated, a desire to spend time socializing with high school mates, or a job that unvaccinated employees had to wear. masks. Their responses suggest that mandates or greater restrictions on the unvaccinated that are increasingly a subject of debate by employers and government officials could make a significant difference.

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Audrey Sliker, 18, of Southington, Connecticut, said she received an injection because the governor of New York announced it was required of all students attending schools at State University of New York. She plans to be a first year student at SUNY Cobleskill this fall.

“I just don’t like needles, in general,” she said, leaving a white tent that housed a mobile vaccination site in Middlefield, Connecticut.

Many interviewees described their choices in personal and somewhat complicated terms.

Willie Pullen, 71, munched on a bag of popcorn as he left a vaccination site in Chicago, one of the few people to show up that day. He wasn’t opposed to vaccines, exactly. Almost everyone in his life was already vaccinated, he said, and although he was more at risk because of his age, he said he thought he was healthy and strong enough. to be able to think about it for a while.

What drove him to a high school on the West Side of Chicago, where free vaccines were given, was the illness of a friend’s aging mother. Mr. Pullen wanted to visit him. He felt that it would be irresponsible to do so without being vaccinated.

“I was holding on,” Mr. Pullen said. “I had reservations about the safety of the vaccine and the government that was doing it. I just wanted to wait and see.

The campaign to widely immunize Americans against the coronavirus began in a roaring and very energetic push at the start of this year, when millions of people were vaccinated every day and coveted vaccine appointments were celebrated with many. happy selfies on social networks. The effort peaked on April 13, when an average of 3.38 million doses were administered in the United States. The Biden administration has set itself a goal of having at least partially immunized 70% of American adults by July 4.

But since mid-April, vaccinations have continued to decline and, in recent weeks, they have leveled off. Weeks after the July 4 baseline expired, effort has now declined, delivering about 537,000 doses per day on average, a decrease of about 84% from peak.

About 68.7 percent of American adults have received at least one injection. Conservative commentators and politicians have questioned the safety of the three vaccines that the Food and Drug Administration has approved for emergency use, and in parts of the country opposition to inoculation is linked to politics. A New York Times analysis of immunization records and voter records in every county in the United States found that willingness to receive a coronavirus vaccine and actual immunization rates were lower, on average, in the provinces. counties where a majority of residents voted to elect Donald J. Trump.

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Despite the lagging vaccination effort, there are signs that alarming headlines about a further rise in coronavirus cases and the highly infectious Delta variant could push more Americans to consider vaccination. White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Friday said there had been “encouraging data” showing that the five states with the highest case rates – Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri and Nevada – also had higher vaccination figures.

In Florida, a clinic in Sarasota County was quiet, a brightly lit waiting room full of mostly empty chairs. Several people entered, often no more than one or two per hour. Lately, they are vaccinating less than 30 people per day.

Elysia Emanuele, 42, paralegal, came to be vaccinated. One factor in her decision had been the growing number of cases in the state, which she watched with concern.

“If everything had gone well, if we had shut down immediately and done what we needed to do and everything was apparently wiped out,” she said, “I think I would have been less likely to get the vaccine. . “

Some people said they heard snippets that worried them about being shot on social media or on cable TV – vaccine misinformation has circulated widely – but said they ultimately dismissed the rumors.

In the shadow of a freeway underpass in south Los Angeles, volunteers and vaccine candidates attempted to argue over the roar of passing cars.

Ronald Gilbert, 60, said he didn’t really believe in vaccines and had never been a fan of needles, but with cases on the rise, he felt it was “better to be safe than sorry”.

“I feel better to have this now, seriously I do,” he said. “I’m gonna walk like a rooster with my chest up like ‘Do you have the vaccine? I received the vaccine.

The news of the Delta variant also changed the mind of Josue Lopez, 33, who had not planned to be vaccinated after his entire family tested positive for the coronavirus in December.

“I thought I was immune, but with this variant, if it’s more dangerous, maybe it’s not enough,” he said. “Even now, I’m still not sure that’s for sure. “

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At a Malcolm X College vaccination site in Chicago, Sabina Richter, one of the city workers, said it was easy to find people to get the vaccine. More recently, they had to offer incentives: passes for an amusement park in the northern suburbs and Lollapalooza.

“Some people come in and still hesitate,” she said. “We have to fight for each of them.”

Cherie Lockhart, worker at a care facility in Milwaukee for the elderly and disabled, said she was worried about vaccines because she didn’t trust a medical system that she said had always treated black people differently. .

She wasn’t anti-vaccine, she said, just waiting for something to help her be sure. Her mother finally convinced her.

“My mother never led me wrong,” said Ms. Lockhart, 35. “She said, ‘I feel this is right in my heart.’ So I prayed about it, and finally I left with my lighthouse.

Many people who have asked for injections recently said they wanted to see how the vaccines affected Americans who rushed to get them early.

“I know people who have contracted it who haven’t gotten sick, which is why,” said Lisa Thomas, 45, a home worker from Portland, Ore.. “I haven’t heard of any case of anyone being hurt from her, and there is a lot to benefit from it.

For Cindy Adams, who works for an insurance company in Des Moines, it was her job’s requirement to wear a mask as an unvaccinated person that pushed her to the driving clinic in the health department of the Polk County for its first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Ms Adams, 52, said she was concerned about the possible long-term effects of the vaccines. But now her husband, children and most of her extended family have been vaccinated, as have most of her colleagues.

“Honestly, I got tired of wearing the mask,” Ms. Adams said. “We had an event yesterday and I had to wear it for five hours because I was surrounded by a lot of people. And I was fed up.

“Everyone is healthy and hasn’t had any side effects yet, so I decided to join the crowd. “

Julie bosman reported from Chicago. Contribution reports were Matt craig from Los Angeles, Elizabeth djinis from Sarasota, Florida, Timmy Facciola from Middlefield, Connecticut, Ann hinga klein by Des Moines, Emily shetler from Portland, Oregon, and Dan Simmons from Milwaukee.

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