A new statewide poll released and conducted by the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) offers a glimpse at the opinions of Virginians on two separate policy issues: COVID-19 vaccines and in-person education.
The Survey of 804 adults, age 18 or older, living in Virginia was conducted between August 28 and September 7 using telephone interviews.
Forty percent of respondents said they were not too likely (13 percent) or not at all likely (27 percent) to get a Food and Drug Administration-approved, free COVID-19 vaccine while 58 percent said they were very likely (38 percent) or somewhat likely (20 percent) to be vaccinated, according to the poll analysis.
The specific breakdown of the sample provides significantly more insight on the survey answers.
There was a large difference between men and women respondents, with 52 percent of males being very likely to get vaccinated compared to 26 percent of females. Additionally, 51 percent of respondents aged 18-34 were very likely to receive a vaccine.
Party affiliation was also a part of the sample demographics, and showed trends seen in other, larger polls. Forty-nine percent of respondents who identified as Republicans said they were not at all likely (35 percent) or not too likely (14 percent) to get the vaccine compared to Democrats and Independents both at 37 percent.
When asked if Virginians should be required to get a free COVID-19 vaccine, 66 percent of respondents said no, including 80 percent of Republicans and 52 percent of Democrats as well as 62 percent of males and 70 percent of females.
Furthermore, 55 percent of respondents think it is not too safe (18 percent) or not safe at all (37 percent) to send children back to school for in-person learning, while 42 percent think it is very safe (16 percent) or somewhat safe (26 percent), the poll analysis said.
Regionally, Tidewater and South Central are most skeptical of sending kids back to school. Forty-six percent of respondents from Tidewater and 44 percent from South Central answered not safe at all.
Fifty-six percent of minority respondents said it is not safe at all compared to 28 percent of Whites, which highlights a larger issue according to former Virginia Governor L. Douglas Wilder.
“The concerns over premature school openings confirms that adequate plans vouchsafing safety have not been shown to the people, particularly the minority communities,” Wilder said in the poll analysis.
The sample used was a combination of landlines and cellular random digital dial samples provided by Marketing Systems Group, a leader in providing research-based statistical samples, according to the poll analysis.
According to the methodology, pollsters identified 693 likely voters out of the 804 adults surveyed.
The margin error for the complete set of weighted data is 5.17 percentage points, and the estimated margin of error for likely voters is 6.22 percentage points, according to the poll analysis. This poll was conducted over 10 days.
Dr. Farrah Stone Graham, VCU public policy poll director told The Virginia Star that transparency is important when looking at a poll’s methods.
“I think that the main thing to look for is transparency with the methods used and then individuals who are receiving the information can consume that responsibly,” she said. “If you are being told how a particular organization reaches the people, then you can make the judgement call.”
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