A new survey from global health think tank Surgo Ventures explains why some Americans haven’t been vaccinated yet, and identifies barriers that they may face in getting the vaccine. Respondents were split into five groups: the Enthusiasts, the Watchful, the Cost-Anxious, the System Distrusters, and the Covid Skeptics. The DMV, in particular, has an abundance of System Distrusters and Covid Skeptics.
Over half of DMV residents have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, which is higher than the 47.5 percent national average. However, eleven percent of survey respondents from DC were classified as System Distrusters, or people who believe that the health care system doesn’t treat them fairly, which is higher than the national average of four percent. Those who are younger, lower-income, essential workers, or belong to the Black community tend to fall into this category. Surgo Ventures suggests that the key to engaging System Distrusters is for public health officials to discuss concerns that people may have about the vaccine, as well as efforts to vaccinate underserved communities.
On the other hand, Virginia and Maryland have more Covid Skeptics, or people who believe at least one conspiracy theory related to the pandemic, than the national average of 14 percent. These folks tend to be Republican and live in rural areas. While it’s impossible to change the minds of Covid Skeptics in the short term, Surgo Venture says to acknowledge how they the feel and share the facts instead of trying to debunk their beliefs.
Engaging with these groups of vaccine skeptics may help President Joe Biden reach his target of having 70 percent of U.S. adults partially vaccinated. In the past few months, local DMV governments have ramped up vaccination efforts for underserved communities. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan have opened more walk-up vaccination sites around the area and are hosting community vaccination events for religious communities, seniors, and residents experiencing homelessness.