New Survey: Faith-Based Outreach Is a Critical Tool for Moving Many Vaccine Hesitant Americans Toward Acceptance
WASHINGTON, April 22, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Public Religion Research Institute ( PRRI ) and Interfaith Youth Core ( IFYC ) today released the largest survey on religion and COVID-19 conducted to date. The survey, conducted jointly by PRRI and IFYC among more than 5,600 Americans from March 8–30, 2021, reveals a key insight that can accelerate the nation’s quest for herd immunity: Faith-based approaches can move many vaccine-hesitant communities toward acceptance.
More than one-quarter of Americans (26%) who are hesitant to get a COVID-19 vaccine, and nearly one in ten (8%) of those who are resistant to getting a vaccine, say that at least one of six faith-based approaches supporting vaccinations would make them more likely to get vaccinated. Among those who attend religious services at least a few times per year, 44% of those who are hesitant and 14% of those who are resistant say faith-based approaches would make them more likely to get vaccinated.
“Religion is a critical but often overlooked factor both for understanding the complexities of vaccine hesitancy and for developing strategies for winning the battle to overcome COVID-19 and its future variants,” said PRRI founder and CEO Robert P. Jones. “For example, among Black Protestants, attending religious services is associated with lower levels of vaccine hesitancy, while the opposite is true among white evangelical Protestants, where clergy have been more reticent to speak out. In both settings, faith-based approaches have the potential to be very effective in improving vaccination rates among both groups.”
Among white evangelical Protestants who regularly attend religious services and are vaccine hesitant, nearly half (47%) say that a faith-based intervention would make them more receptive — a higher proportion than among any other religious group. Additionally, 66% of white evangelical Protestants who are vaccine hesitant say they would turn to a religious leader at least a little for information about vaccines. However, white evangelical Protestants who regularly attend religious services are slightly less likely than those who do not attend to be vaccine accepters (43% vs. 48%), an indication that vaccine adoption messages may be in weak circulation among this population.
Approximately one-third of Black Protestants (36%) who are vaccine hesitant say one or more faith-based approaches would make them more likely to get a COVID-19 vaccine. And seven in ten Black Protestants (70%) who are vaccine hesitant say they would look to a religious leader at least a little for information about a vaccine, Notably, the data suggests that positive messages about vaccine adoption are already in play and having a positive effect within Black church communities. Nearly six in ten (57%) Black Protestants who regularly attend services are vaccine accepters, compared to 41% among those who do not attend services.
“Religious engagement could be the key to herd immunity,” said IFYC founder and president Eboo Patel. “A significant part of the American population is telling us that one or more religious messages can move them from vaccine hesitancy, and even outright refusal, to acceptance. As we approach the long last mile, the strategy has to include ramping up collaborations between government officials, public health leaders, and trusted messengers within racially diverse religious communities working together to increase confidence in the vaccine and get shots in arms.”
The full report, “Faith-Based Approaches Can Positively Impact COVID-19 Vaccination Efforts:
Religious Identities and the Race Against the Virus,” and a description of the survey’s methodology is available at prri.org and ifyc.org.
IFYC is a national nonprofit that equips the next generation of students and professionals with the knowledge and skills needed for leadership in a religiously diverse world.
PRRI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to conducting independent research at the intersection of religion, culture, and public policy.
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