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Richmond Power Poll: COVID-19 vaccine thoughts

Majority of respondents are ready to be inoculated

Richmond, VA  |  December 18, 2020 10:00am  |  By Tom Lappas

The first COVID-19 vaccine began rolling out this week in Virginia and nationwide, and a vast majority of respondents to this month’s Richmond Power Poll survey are ready to take it when it’s their turn.

Eighty percent of respondents said they would get the vaccine as soon as they are eligible to do so; only 3% said they wouldn’t, while 10% said they weren’t yet certain. Another 7% indicated that it would depend upon which version of the vaccine is available to them.

Pfizer’s COVID vaccine was the first to earn emergency use approval in the United States, but another from Moderna appears days away from the same approval. Johnson & Johnson is among another group of companies potentially nearing approval for their versions of a vaccine, too.

Though most respondents are ready to be vaccinated, they were split about whether the vaccine should become a required component of the return to normality in the coming months.

Asked whether proof of vaccination should be required at some point in the next 3-6 months in order to gain entrance to large gatherings of people, such as sporting events, concerts or airplanes, 37% of respondents said no, while 30% said yes. Another 33% said that it would depend upon the type of gathering.

“Prepare for new way of doing business,” wrote respondent Ellen Robertson. “The normal we knew is past. We are not going back to that way. We must chart a future way.”

Who deserves credit for the first vaccines coming to market in less than a year? Respondents to this month’s survey largely credited the scientists and pharmaceutical companies that created them (83%), while 10% credited President Donald Trump and about 7% credited the private funders and investors who help bankroll the vaccines. No one gave credit to the federal government in general.

Respondents also were split when asked about the recent tightening of restrictions implemented by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam in light of rising COVID cases statewide. (Northam instituted an overnight curfew from midnight to 5 a.m. and reduced from 25 to 10 the number of people allowed at gatherings in the state.)

Although 43% of respondents indicated that Northam’s moves were smart because cases are rising too fast and hospitals could become overwhelmed, nearly an equal percentage (40%) said that the new guidelines were confusing and that it’s difficult to understand why certain places can be open but others can’t be, for example.

Another 10% felt his new restrictions represented government overreach, while about 7% felt they were pointless because the virus will run its course regardless.

“We should all applaud Governor Northam and Secretary of Health Carey for leading Virginia to be safer and healthier than almost anywhere else in the United States,” wrote respondent Alex Nyerges. “These rules are there to keep us safe. Remember when they made us all wear seatbelts! It saved lives. This is saving lives. The life it saves may be your child, your spouse, your mother, father or someone else you know or love. We need to act like responsible adults instead of petulant children.”

The Richmond Power Poll is not designed to be a scientific survey. This month’s poll had a response rate of nearly 16% among 192 people.