As coronavirus infection rates drop and vaccines become available to adolescents, new polling of New Jersey voters conducted by Change Research and commissioned by Newark-based non-profit Project Ready finds that significant gains have been made when it comes to increasing Black and Hispanic voters’ willingness to be vaccinated, even as those communities currently have the lowest vaccination rates.

The share of Black voters willing to be vaccinated increased from 62% in February to 69% in May, while 83% of Hispanic voters say they will be vaccinated, compared to 77% in February. In addition, in light of vaccines now being available for children 12 and older, Black (54%) and Hispanic (59%) parents of middle and high school students are more likely to say they will vaccinate their children than white parents (39%).

“Even as they remain far less likely to already be vaccinated, communities of color are becoming increasingly comfortable with receiving the COVID-19 vaccines, and that’s a credit to the leaders across New Jersey whose outreach is showing early results,” said Project Ready Executive Director Shennell McCloud. “The two biggest reasons cited by those who haven’t been vaccinated are side effects and trust in government, suggesting that government and public health officials must continue to work directly with people to build trust and deliver vaccines to their neighborhoods from providers they trust.”

“This survey data demonstrates the significant progress we’ve made as a state in educating people about the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines, particularly in communities of color,” said Dr. Shereef Elnahal, President & CEO of University Hospital in Newark. “However, it also shows how much work we have to do to continue to get people vaccinated, so that every community is protected from the virus. We are committed here at University Hospital to redouble our efforts at this critical time.”

While the vaccination rate is lowest among communities of color and highest among white voters, many additional Black and Hispanic voters say they are willing to be vaccinated. Only 35% of Black voters say they are already vaccinated, but an additional 34% say they either have an appointment to receive the vaccine (10%), definitely plan to receive the vaccine (10%) or probably will receive the vaccine (14%). By comparison, 56% of Hispanic and 68% of white voters say they are already vaccinated, with an additional 26% of Hispanic voters and 4% of white voters saying they would get the vaccine.

The most common reasons cited for not getting the vaccine include: Concerns about side effects (43%), Don’t trust the government (43%), Don’t think I need it (38%), Concerns about a rushed timeline (36%), and Want to wait to confirm it is safe (32%).

The increased willingness to be vaccinated does not appear to be a result of the CDC’s action. In the wake of the CDC’s new guidance about fully vaccinated individuals no longer needing to wear masks and the pause on the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, the vast majority of New Jerseyans say that neither action makes them more likely to be vaccinated.

When a vaccine becomes available for younger children, a similar pattern holds among parents of those children.

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