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A vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine rests on a table at UC Davis Health on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021, in Sacramento, Calif.

As the state works through the first phases of its coronavirus vaccine rollout, a new poll released Monday finds that about 23% of Missourians would “definitely not get it.”

The poll, conducted by the Virginia-based American Viewpoint for the Missouri Hospital Association, surveyed 800 Missourians in the first week of January on their feelings about taking a COVID vaccine.

Of those surveyed, about 58% said they are very or somewhat likely to be vaccinated, while 38% said they are not too likely or not at all likely to seek out a vaccine.

When the vaccine is available, 40% said they would get it right away, 23% said they would wait to see how it’s working and 11% said they would only get it if required.

“Those least likely to get the vaccine include middle-aged voting adults, Republicans and those who identify as conservative,” the poll noted.

Meanwhile, older adults, especially men and Democrats, were most likely to get the vaccine right away, the poll said.

The hesitancy among residents to receive a vaccine underscores the challenge the state faces in communicating the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines already being administered to front-line health care workers and long-term care facilities throughout the state. Pfizer’s vaccine is 95% effective, and Moderna’s vaccine is 94.5% effective.

“Broad vaccination is the key to response and recovery in Missouri,” Herb Kuhn, the Missouri Hospital Association’s president and CEO, said in a news release. “Although the vaccine is not available to the public currently, it will be essential to have an informed, confident and energized public as we move into the widespread distribution phase of vaccination efforts.”

Overall, about seven in 10 Missourians are somewhat or very confident the vaccine will be distributed fairly — with skepticism highest among African American participants at 42%. The survey’s results mirror what similar polls have found nationwide.

African Americans have been disproportionately affected by the virus’ spread, due to disparities in access to health care, jobs as essential workers on the front lines and more.

Across the country, Black and Latino Americans are nearly three times more likely than white Americans to die from the novel coronavirus. In Missouri, the rate of COVID-19-related deaths for African American residents is 1.9 times the rate for white residents, and 1.4 times the rate for the entire state, according to the Missouri Hospital Association.

However, the state lacks complete demographic data and does not know the ethnicity for nearly 23% of COVID deaths.

Efforts to reach specific communities are underway, with the state emphasizing working with community newspapers to reach Black residents and researchers partnering with Black churches to improve COVID testing.

The poll also looked at where participants lived. Respondents in Springfield and the Columbia-Jefferson City area were most likely to not plan on being vaccinated. Meanwhile, trust and confidence that the vaccine will be distributed fairly was lowest in Kansas City and the St. Louis area.

Steven Edwards, the president and CEO of CoxHealth in Springfield, said in a news release that the vaccines have been through extensive clinical trials, and he urged residents to consider taking one in order to move past the pandemic.

“Even if you believe you are at low risk, please consider it your civic duty to be vaccinated,” Edwards said. “Protecting our fellow citizens can only happen with significant public support for vaccination.”

Missouri Independent is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a public charity. It can be found at missouriindependent.com.

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