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Partisan politics at the root of vaccine hesitancy, according to new article
In a new article posted this week, Syracuse University professor of political science Shana Kusner Gadarian, along with her co-authors, Sara Wallace Goodman (UC Irvine) and Thomas Pepinsky (Cornell University) ask the question:
“How do we explain the pattern between vaccinated and unvaccinated Americans? Why would some be resistant or—in extreme cases—outright hostile to the idea of a highly effective vaccine that almost eliminates the risk of serious illness and hospitalization from COVID-19?”
The answer, they state, is quite simply partisan politics.
The article, Why Trump and the GOP Didn’t Claim Vaccines, on Smerconish.com examines the large partisan gap between the vaccinated and unvaccinated that is growing over time. “Many eligible Americans are choosing not to get vaccinated and increasingly, those who choose to remain unvaccinated and unprotected identify as Republicans and live in Republican counties.”
Gadarian, a political psychologist and chair of the political science department at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University, has tracked American attitudes toward the pandemic since it began. She is available to speak to reporters about the ongoing divide between Republicans and Democrats in getting the COVID vaccine. Please contact Ellen James Mbuqe, director of media relations, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412.496.0551, for interviews.
Gadarian is a co-author of the paper, written with Goodman and Pepinsky, “Partisanship, health behavior, and policy attitudes in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.” In this paper, they found from the earliest days of the pandemic, partisanship—measured as party identification, support for President Trump, or left-right ideological positioning—explained differences in Americans across a wide range of health behaviors and policy preferences.
They point out that the rollout of the vaccine could have been heralded as an achievement by the Republican party and under President Trump’s leadership.
“Vaccines could have been touted as the Republican key to unlocking economic recovery. President Trump was vaccinated back in January 2021, but he chose not to do so publicly, like other elected officials in the US and around the globe who used their vaccinations to communicate the importance of vaccination more widely. Trump politicized vaccines early on, publicly raising baseless accusations against Pfizer by suggesting that they delayed positive vaccine trial results until after Election Day. The Republican Party could have embraced vaccinations as a central Republican achievement, but it chose another path.”
They point to right-leaning cable news shows, skeptical attitudes towards science, strong beliefs in personal choice, and social cues from Republican leaders as all contributing to partisan attitudes towards COVID vaccinations.
To fix this, they write:
“Republican leadership at the state and national level need to align the values of the party with vaccination to end this pandemic permanently. Perhaps more importantly, the content of this messaging must be centered on the narrative of consulting your family doctor, which keeps the endorsement ideologically consistent with conservative values like individual choice and distrust of government authority. More of that type of messaging and outreach will be needed in the months ahead.”
Click here to read the entire article.
To arrange interviews, please contact Ellen James Mbuqe, director of media relations, at email@example.com or 412.496.0551.