One-quarter of adult Missourians say they will not get a coronavirus vaccine at any point, according to results of a national survey released Friday.
The findings from collaborators at four universities, including Northeastern and Harvard, place Missouri’s level of vaccine resistance above the national average of 21% and near the middle of the pack compared with other states. Massachusetts had the smallest share of respondents opposed to a coronavirus vaccine, at 9%, while Oklahoma and North Dakota tied for the greatest portion of residents who said they would not get vaccinations, at 33% apiece.
The study — based on polls of 21,459 U.S. residents from every state, including 424 Missourians — helps outline what experts say will be a critical effort to gauge vaccine hesitancy as the nation pushes to vaccinate its residents. The subject has already fueled conversation among St. Louis researchers and policy adjustments by state officials.
Just last week, Gov. Mike Parson noted high interest in urban centers and said the state will work to hold more mass vaccination events in the St. Louis and Kansas City areas. “Some Missourians are less interested in receiving a vaccine than others,” he said.
Parson’s announcement came as mass vaccination events in rural corners of Missouri acknowledged that they couldn’t find enough people to use up the doses they’d received.
The new nationwide study also found that rural areas had “far higher vaccination resistance” — 29% of rural respondents across the U.S., versus 22% in suburban areas, and 16% in urban places.
The study also found a complex set of discrepancies by age, education level, political affiliation, race, gender, and income levels. For instance, people with higher levels of education and income were more likely to welcome vaccinations. And although Democrats and Republicans so far reported nearly identical vaccination rates, Independents and Republicans were about three times more likely to express resistance to the shots than Democratic respondents. Women were also more likely to be vaccine-resistant.
Experts in Missouri say it is hard to pinpoint geographic pockets of vaccine hesitancy now. Lagging vaccination rates in a given area could largely result from vaccine supply shortages, they said. And a wide range of barriers, from transportation to technology, face eligible patients.
“Vaccine hesitancy may not be a real barrier,” said Enbal Shacham, a professor at St. Louis University’s College for Public Health and Social Justice. “The real barrier is access.”
Low interest or wide delays in coronavirus vaccinations present risks for more than just the localized areas where those issues apply. Besides allowing for the disease to take a continued toll, vaccination hesitancy or lags also provide time and opportunities for the virus to evolve. Experts say that threat of new variants taking root looms as the biggest risk of inadequate vaccination — and something that could potentially unravel broader progress elsewhere.
“The greatest danger is that if we don’t stamp this virus out, it can mutate,” said Pam Walker, St. Louis’ former city health director. “That’s the No. 1 concern.”
But viewpoints on vaccinations could be poised to change for the better, relatively soon. Experts said they are optimistic that attitudes toward the vaccines will improve as their rollout progresses, and particularly as people hear more about the experiences of their relatives, friends and acquaintances.
“As more people take the vaccine, they’re also encouraging friends to get the vaccine,” said Larry Jones, the executive director of the Missouri Center for Public Health Excellence. “I think we’ll have better acceptance.”
One year into pandemic, optimism meets uncertainty for arts, entertainment community After a year of closings, cancellations, postponements and pivots, we reflect on how quickly everyday life changed. And as vaccines bring a dose of optimism, we look to the future for the arts and entertainment community in St. Louis.
One year into pandemic, optimism meets uncertainty for arts, entertainment community
After a year of closings, cancellations, postponements and pivots, we reflect on how quickly everyday life changed. And as vaccines bring a dose of optimism, we look to the future for the arts and entertainment community in St. Louis.
It remains to be seen how and when COVID-19 vaccines will affect concert-going.
Libraries and booksellers began shutting their doors last March. Like others, they first expected to reopen, perhaps, in weeks.
Since it takes months to plan a festival, and vaccine news changes daily, plans for summer festivals remain uncertain.
It is easy to imagine the combination of quarantine burnout, pent-up demand and, as the vaccination rate increases, greater comfort with outdoor dining leading to a summer dining surge.
The St. Louis attractions now set modest budgets and know to plan a few months, not a year, in advance.
2021 might just provide the vibrant spring we’ve been waiting for.
Artists were able to keep working, but shutdowns also meant many exhibitions were put on hold.
With the rollout of vaccinations, theater and dance artists are optimistic that in-person performances can resume before the end of the year.
The coronavirus pandemic has been brutal on movie theaters. Are they being written out of the entertainment equation?