Weekly Wonder: Massachusetts vaccine confidence peaked on Inauguration Day

The percentage of people in Massachusetts who said in a survey they "probably" or "definitely" would take a COVID-19 vaccine if offered to them peaked on Jan. 20, when President Joe Biden was sworn into office. Graphic by Stella Lorence/BU News Service

By Stella Lorence
Boston University News Service

A new survey found enthusiasm for getting the COVID-19 vaccine peaked in Massachusetts on Inauguration Day, with some 84% of respondents indicating they would likely take a vaccine.

The Delphi research group at Carnegie Mellon University maintains the Delphi Epidata COVIDCast database. Data is generated through a voluntary survey administered via Facebook, which has run continuously since April 2020. 

Roughly 50,000 people take the survey each day, according to the Delphi group’s website.

Starting at the end of January, the survey asked participants how likely they would be to take a COVID-19 vaccine if offered to them today. The percentage who responded “definitely” or “probably” was calculated over a seven-day pool. In Massachusetts, the average percentage of respondents from January to March who said they would take a vaccine was 82.7%.

This value peaked in Massachusetts at 84.7% on Jan. 20, 2021 — the day President Joseph Biden was inaugurated. The second and third highest days for vaccine confidence in Massachusetts were the days before and after Inauguration Day.

Although the percentage fell again in early and mid-February, it hit around 84% in late February, around the time Gov. Charlie Baker announced the next stage in lifting restrictions on businesses and restaurants.

Just over 2.2 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered in Massachusetts, reaching roughly a third of the state’s population, according to state reports. About 11% of the state’s population has been fully vaccinated as of March 9, meaning they’ve received both doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Nationally, Wyoming appeared on the Delphi survey to be the most vaccine-shy, with an average of 58% of people who said they would take a vaccine, though confirmed cases in the state have been declining since a peak in early November, according to state data. About 20% of Wyomingites have received their first dose as of March 9, the state reported.

Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon announced Monday that he was repealing the state’s face mask mandate and lifting restrictions on bars, restaurants, theaters and gyms in response to the steady case decline and vaccination efforts.

Washington D.C. seemed the most vaccine-eager in the Delphi study, with an average percentage of 87%. The Mayor’s Office reported just over 11% of the D.C. population had been fully or partially vaccinated.

Every state recorded a majority of people saying they would definitely or probably take a vaccine if it was offered to them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s dashboard shows over 18% of the nation has received at least one vaccine dose, with about half that group being fully vaccinated.

Although the vaccine roll-out has been rocky, the Biden administration announced earlier this month that the U.S. is on track to have enough vaccine supply for every adult by the end of May. Describing the pandemic response as a “wartime effort,” Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to expedite the vaccine manufacture process.

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