Unvaccinated people less likely to wear masks, follow COVID-19 safety rules : Report

Unvaccinated Americans are less likely to adhere to coronavirus safety protocols such as wearing face masks than their COVID-19 protected counterparts who have been inoculated against the virus, a new US report shows.

A study led by the Kaiser Family Foundation also revealed that in the US, those who have not been inoculated believe the vaccines are more dangerous than COVID-19 itself, while vaccinated Americans believe the Delta variant is worrisome enough that they continue to mask in public and avoid large gatherings.

Despite the more infectious Delta variant sweeping across the US, the percentage of adults in the country who say they oppose the COVID-19 vaccines has remained unchanged since December.

The Kaiser poll underscores challenges of public health officials to convincing more Americans to get vaccinated given there is no scientific reason behind the fear of vaccines against COVID-19. The shots are safe, effective and have few side effects, many independent studies have shown.

The Kaiser Family Foundation surveyed 1,517 adults in mid-July about their thoughts and experiences surrounding the vaccines.

At the time, COVID-19 case numbers were rising because of the Delta variant of the coronavirus, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had not yet recommended indoor mask use in areas with high transmission rates.

Still, 62 percent of vaccinated adults said news of the variant had prompted them to continue masking in public places, and 61 percent said they avoided large gatherings because of the variant.

By contrast, 37 percent of unvaccinated adults said the variant had prompted them to wear masks, and 40 percent said they steered clear of crowds.

“When we look at who’s more likely to be changing their behaviors because of Delta, it’s vaccinated people versus the unvaccinated people. That’s what really stands out,” said Liz Hamel, vice president and director of public opinion and survey research at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The research group has been conducting surveys since December to track changes in attitudes about the vaccines.

One finding remained firm.

String opposition to the vaccines has hovered around the 13 to 15 percent range since the research group began its surveys.

In the latest report, 14 percent said they would “definitely not” get vaccinated.

Those who remain unvaccinated were more likely than people who have been inoculated to suggest media outlets have exaggerated the seriousness of the pandemic. They also believed that there is more to fear from the vaccines than from COVID-19 – in strong contrast to recommendations from international health bodies that vaccines are the most effective way to be protected against the virus.

Demographics of each group are largely divided by political affiliation.

The “differences are to a large degree driven by unvaccinated Republicans,” the authors wrote. “Majorities of Republicans say they never wear a mask outdoors, in crowded outdoor places, at work, or in a grocery store. Democrats are more likely to report wearing a mask at least most of the time in all of these locations.”

The results may not reflect any potential impact of recent messages from Republican lawmakers encouraging their constituents to get vaccinated.

Overall, 70 percent of adults in the US — more than 180 million people — have had at least one dose. Meanwhile, nearly 35 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported since the beginning of the pandemic, and more than 611,000 people have died.

As of Thursday, more than 200 million people around the world have contracted COVID-19, as the more infectious Delta variant threatens areas with low vaccination rates and has burdened global healthcare systems around the world.

The pandemic has left close to 4.4 million people dead.

As of Thursday, more than 200 million people around the world have contracted COVID-19, as the more infectious Delta variant threatens areas with low vaccination rates and has burdened global healthcare systems around the world.

The pandemic has left close to 4.4 million people dead.

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