New Polling Suggests: “We Do Not Get To Herd Immunity Without Dealing With Faith Identity”

"We do not get to herd immunity without dealing with faith identity,” said Eboo Patelthe founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), during an April 22 launch of new polling on religion and Covid-19—the largest such survey conducted to date. The reportco-sponsored by IFYC and the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), revealed higher rates of hesitancy among certain religious groups, including Hispanic Protestants, white evangelicals, and Black Protestants. Robert P. Jones, CEO and Founder of PRRI, named this hesitancy as “the largest barrier to herd immunity” in the race against the virus. Yet, Jones has also noted that “faith-based approaches have the potential to be very effective in improving vaccination rates” within different faith communities. 

In addition to Jones and Patel, the expert panel included Natalie Jackson, Director of Research at PRRI, and Liz Hamel, Vice President and Director of Public Opinion and Survey Research at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. To view a PDF of slides presented on the April 22, 2021, webinar, click here: PRRI-IFYC Religious Diversity and Vaccine Survey. complete transcript, as well as a link to the webinar recording, are available below.  

Robert P. Jones: Hi, everyone.  Welcome to this exciting event this morning.  We're thrilled to be here and to be releasing our new survey of religious diversity in the vaccine that was conducted jointly with our partner Interfaith Youth Corps.  And the survey is the largest survey conducted to date examining the relationship between religious communities and vaccine hesitancy.  Importantly, the survey goes beyond just diagnosing the problem, but to look for solutions at this critical moment in the - our race against the virus.  And it's leveraging of rigorous research to understand how attention to the religion factor can help us understand both challenges and opportunities is really at the heart of this partnership between PRRI and IFYC, with PRRI bringing our research and survey capabilities alongside IFYC's expertise and insights about how problems get solved on the ground, and in local communities, and particularly, how religion can be a resource to help solve those problems.  This is our first major public project together but look to see more from us in this space as part of a long-term partnership between our organizations. 

In addition to my friend, Eboo Patel from IFYC, I'm grateful to be joined today by my colleague, Natalie Jackson at PRRI and Liz Hamel from the Kaiser Family Foundation, and we'll get fuller introductions to them in just a minute.  But before we get to the finer things, I was wondering if could say just a few remarks from my end to set the table.  With facing down once in a generation crisis like this COVID-19 pandemic, we really need to marshal all of our nation's resources, and we've tapped the best of our scientific resources resulting in a vaccine.  We tap the best of our manufacturing and logistical resources, overcoming hurdles to produce the vaccine and widely distributed.  And now we're at a transition point where the scientific and technical expertise are finding their limits. 

We're getting record numbers of shots at arms, but we're also finding that many groups are lagging behind for very complex reasons.  The vaccine hesitancy among these groups is now the largest barrier to reaching herd immunity and safe public spaces in the country.  To solve this problem, we're going to need our best cultural resources.  And as we showed this morning, our new national survey shows that America's religious leaders and congregations can be a powerful tool for persuading a broad range of vaccine-hesitant Americans to get vaccinated.  I'm going to introduce now Natalie Jackson, who will be doing the opening part of the presentation of the data. 

Natalie is the Director of Research at PRRI.  She spent the last 15 years developing extensive expertise in survey research processes, as well as quantitative political science.  Her research on how people form opinions as well on election polling and forecasting landscape has appeared in a number of peer review journals and edited volumes.  And she serves on the councils of the DC Chapter of the American Association for Public Opinion Research or AAPOR, and also on the National Capital Area Political Science Association and on the careers diversity committee for the American Political Science Association.  She received her PhD in political science from the University of Oklahoma and also[?] Postdoctoral Associate at the Duke University Initiative on Survey Methodology as a BA in Political Science and History from West Texas A&M.  So, Natalie, we're glad you're here this morning.  With that, I will hand it over to my friend and colleague EBU Patel. 

Eboo Patel: Thank you, Robbie.  We at IFYC are thrilled to be partnering with the Public Religion Research Institute on this project.  It is the first of many that we will be doing together, Inshallah.  We've been friends for a long time, but we brought PRRI's polling and research expertise together with IFYC's programmatic expertise, and we hope to make a big difference when it comes to religious diversity in the United States.  The IFYC, what we do is we bring diverse religious networks together to address critical social issues.  We do it largely by nurturing interfaith leaders on America's college campuses and beyond.  We have a network of about 600 campuses across the country.  Many of those folks are here with us today.  I'm thrilled to have you, thank you so much.  And thousands and thousands of students and alumni who are bringing together those religiously-diverse networks to solve critical social issues. 

It could be no more critical social issue than how to reach herd immunity and get America vaccinated.  Let me tell you why I'm so excited about this survey, because it is not just about the state at play, it's also about how to move the ball forward towards herd immunity.  And here, I think is the top-line finding.  We do not get to herd immunity without dealing with faith identity.  Religious engagement is key to ending the virus.  I'm going to say that one more time.  We do not get to herd immunity without dealing with faith identity.  Religious engagement is key to ending the virus.  There are significant segments of the American community whose attitude to the vaccine is inextricably tied to their religious identity.  And a major finding of this study is that person-to-person faith-based approaches are effective at encouraging significant numbers of those people towards vaccine acceptance. 

We are already seeing reports of public health directors who are turning away vaccine supply and going in desperate search of arms.  But what they really need is attitudes and willingness.  As Robbie said, science and supply chains have done an admirable job of bringing us to this point.  There's a powerful partnership now to be made between those sectors of our society who have brought us the vaccine and the sectors of our society, faith and culture that need to bring hearts and minds and souls to the vaccine. 

We are thrilled to be doing this.  We're thrilled to be launching these findings.  We hope that this is the beginning of the turn towards full herd immunity in the United States.  And I'm thrilled that our friends from the Kaiser Family Foundation are partnering with us on this, amongst the leading healthcare research organizations in the country represented by Liz Hamel, who's the Vice President and Director of Public Opinion and Survey Research at the Kaiser Family Foundation.  A Bachelor of Arts Degree from Harvard University and runs [inaudible] monthly health tracking poll, which many of us rely on for our news about the virus and does ongoing survey partnerships with the news media organizations, ranging from the Washington Post to the Los Angeles Times to CNN.  So, Liz will be batting cleanup on this panel and I will turn it back over to Robbie and Natalie to get us going through the data. 

Natalie Jackson: Okay.  Thank you very much for being here.  I am Natalie Jackson, and I'm getting my screen share up so that you can see the slide deck.  Here we go.  Okay.  So, let me tell you first a little bit about this survey.  It was conducted online March 8th through 30th.  So, it did come out of the field just a couple of weeks ago.  The total sample size is 5,625.  Age is 18 and over.  Living in all 50 States plus DC.  We had 5,149 who were part of the Ipsos knowledge panel, which is a probability-based online panel.  And an additional 476 recruited in order to bolster our sample sizes in smaller States.  The entire sample is balanced to be representative of the entire United States.  And of course, as with any survey, there's a margin of error, and in this case it's relatively small 1.5 percentage points and that does include a design effect for those of you who follow those metrics. 

To set the stage little bit, I'm going to talk about the baseline of where people are with thinking about getting a vaccine.  We I have quite a few people who report that they either have gotten the vaccine or will get the vaccine as soon as possible.  We call these vaccine acceptors.  As I mentioned, our survey was in the field throughout the month of March.  So, we expect that by now with the rate of vaccination efforts, some of we'll get a dose as soon as possible.  People have converted into the already received a dose of the vaccine.  So, we're treating those two categories together throughout the rest of this presentation, and throughout the report that you can find on both the PRRI and the IFYC websites. 

Our vaccine-hesitant group is another 28% of the population.  Those are people who want to either wait and see how the vaccine works for others, or they only want to get the vaccine if they're required for schoolwork or other activities.  We only have about 14% of the population who is in the refuser category, saying that they will not get the vaccine.  However, we all know that that 14% is critical to getting us to herd immunity, and even more importantly, we need to get the vaccine-hesitant across the line.  58% of people in the US receiving the vaccine does not get us to most estimates of herd immunity.  There are of course, partisan differences.  If you're plugged into the data on this topic, you've likely seen this.  Our numbers are very similar to others.  We have 45% of Republicans who are in this acceptor category.  55% of Republicans combined in the hesitant and refuser categories.  Independence look like the population as a whole, of course, they usually do.  And Democrats are very likely to be vaccine acceptors. 

One of the unique things about our data though, is that we were able to dive a little bit deeper into some of our hesitant categories.  So, with a survey this large, we were able to look at different types of Republicans, different types of independence, different types of Democrats.  For independence and Democrats.  There were really no huge unifying features other than things that I'll discuss along the way like education, and age and similar factors.  However, among Republicans, news consumption really matters.  We asked what television news source people trust most on the survey.  And Republicans who gave an answer along the lines of mainstream news, like any of the broadcast networks, or their local news, or CNN, you know, those types of responses, they are majority vaccine-acceptant.  Interestingly, so are those who reported trusting Fox News most.  We found this fascinating because of course there's an assumption that Fox News is working to make Republicans more extreme on many dimensions.  This however doesn't seem to be one of them. 

What seems to matter, we allowed an open-ended response, and somewhat to our surprise, we had enough people who listed Far-right News sources, such as One American News Network or News Fox, that we were able to analyze this.  And that's where we get the drop-off.  The Far-right News Republicans and those who say they don't watch television news at all, are overwhelmingly hesitant or refusers.  Notably, these are one of - these are two of the few categories of anything we looked at where we got around or over a third of the group in the refuser category. 

Among religious affiliations, the most vaccine-acceptant group is Jewish.  Of course, there are variations, you know, there's 5% refusal rate, but the 85% acceptance is very high.  Kind of the next group were white Catholics.  Other Christian, which includes Jehovah's Witnesses, Orthodox, and other Christian denominations that were not large enough to report out on their own.  White Mainland Protestants are more than 6% and 10% vaccine-acceptant as well.  Non-Christian besides Jews, so this is Muslims, Hindu, Buddhist, any of the world religions.  Religiously-Unaffiliated folks are right at 60% vaccine-acceptant.  And we have all Americans as there for you as a benchmark.  That's where the entire population is. 

Hispanic Catholics are right there with the population.  Mormons are more evenly split.  They're 50:50 between acceptors and hesitant or refuse.  Black Protestants are also roughly evenly split.  Other Protestant of color.  These are Protestants who are not black, white, or Hispanic.  This is largely Asian-American, multi-racial Native American who identify as Protestant.  And white evangelical Protestants are also on the lower end.  Then Hispanic Protestants are our lowest vaccine-acceptor group.  Notably, they also have the highest rate of hesitancy.  You notice the distinction between white evangelical Protestants and Hispanic Protestants is that the white evangelicals are more likely to be refusers whereas Hispanic it's hesitancy.  It's not the refusal rate that jumps up very high. 

Now we can break a few of our categories down by whether they attend religious services or not.  So, we can look for the effect of whether you are active in your religion or not.  And the two most pronounced patterns that we saw were with black Protestants and white evangelical Protestants.  For black Protestants, if they attend services at least a few times a year, 57% are vaccine-acceptors.  If they don't attend services that drops all the way to 41%.  So, this was a critical finding for us, that it does look like black Protestant churches are doing something to encourage vaccine adoption because we do get this very large in comparison to most other groups.  This very large drop-off 

White evangelical Protestants work a little bit differently.  You have our baseline 45%-acceptant.  Among those who attend services, it's basically the same.  It's drops a little bit 43%-acceptant.  And those who don't attend are actually more likely to be acceptors.  This is a statistically significant at the 90% confidence level.  So, we are reasonably certain that there's a distinction between white evangelical Protestants who do and do not attend services.  It just works in the opposite direction. 

Another key aspect of vaccine hesitancy and refusal is education.  And this, when we talk about survey research, we spend a lot of time talking about the white population divided by education, whether or not they have four-year college degree.  And of course, that gap is here.  Those who have a college education are much more likely to be vaccine-acceptors than those who don't.  What we're able to do with this large data set is break that out for every race and ethnic group that we have in the data.  And we see that the education effect reverberates throughout, and it's particularly high for multi-racial Americans.  Multiracial Americans without a college degree are only 39% vaccine-acceptors.  Those with college degrees jumped all the way up to 75%.  That's a gigantic gap.  And you see the refuser rates drop by two-thirds.  Another race or ethnicity is largely Asian-Americans, Pacific-Islanders, along with Native American.  And the gap is actually narrower among these groups.  They're combined again, simply because of sample size restrictions. 

We asked a few questions about conspiracy theories and QAnon, because one of the things coming up in the news is that QAnon has been attacking vaccines.  So, we asked if people believe the core QAnon beliefs, and you can see these laid out in the report.  But we asked about four of the core QAnon beliefs three of which have nothing to do with vaccines or COVID.  And we classified people into, they generally disagree with QAnon theories, kind of the middle category, they completely disagree with all these theories, and they generally agree.  So, the generally agree is only 12% or 13% of the population.  It's pretty small category.  Still that's a lot of people.  And we see that patterns of acceptance and hesitancy work in the opposite direction.  Those who are not completely disagreeing with QAnon theories, they're not on board with any of this at all.  They're mostly vaccine-acceptors.  Those who agree more with QAnon theories are - the plurality are vaccine-refusers.  So, there is a reasonably strong association between QAnon theory beliefs and vaccine hesitancy and refusal. 

And then just to summarize where we are.  We have groups that are - have among whom half or more are hesitant or refusers.  Again, Hispanic Protestants are our largest vaccine hesitant group.  That 42% hesitant is easily the largest proportion of any group hesitant.  Republicans, of course, are majority hesitant or refusers.  Protestants of color are also in this range.  White evangelical Protestants.  We didn't discuss it, but rural residents.  People who reside in rural areas of the country are also more likely than the population as a whole to be hesitant and refuse.  Black Americans as a group are more than half hesitant and refuser. 

And another new item we didn't speak too much, but that's really notable is that those under age 50 are majority hesitant or refuser.  So, 18 to 29 and 30 to 49 are roughly the same.  You know, this could be in part due to access issues.  You know, the vaccines were opened up to older ages first.  So, it will be interesting to see how this plays out longer-term.  However, it is very notable that the younger portion of the American population is majority hesitant or refuser.  And then of course, we've already discussed black Protestant, Mormon, and multi-racial Americans.  And with that, I will hand it over to Robbie to continue with the next part. 

Robert P. Jones: Great.  Thank you, Natalie.  So, I'm going to take up from where Natalie left off.  And that's the picture of where we are.  Who's hesitant, who's refusals, and who are refusers, and you can see that it's a very complex picture.  It's about politics, it's also about religion, it's about education, it's about race and ethnicity, so it's a very complex picture.  And what I'm going to show you is what impact having a faith-based approach to vaccine uptake has across a range of groups, not just religious groups, but a range of other groups as well.  And why it's such an important tool in our toolbox for reaching a herd immunity with all Americans. 

Let's first start with just a quick look at religious leaders as a source of trusted information, and notice that many of these groups, like we saw that especially the ones at the top African-American Protestants, white evangelicals, who are vaccine-hesitant.  And what we see here is that these are the numbers of people overall, who say that they'd look to a religious leader for information on the vaccine.  And if you look at - so I've got here, the group overall, and then the sub-group within there that are vaccine-hesitant folks, and whether they would look to a religious leader for information on the vaccine.  And what you'll notice is that particularly among African-American Protestants and white evangelical Protestants you know, while we have a little bit less than half or right around half saying - all of that group saying they would look at least a little to a religious leader for information.  Among the vaccine-hesitant, those numbers jump quite considerably. 

So, the people who are on the fence or are leaning away from getting the virus from getting the vaccine are particularly say they would look to the religious leader for information, right?  So, here are the people, again, among the hesitant sub-group.  Within there, we see this jump.  And we see it really a little less pronounced as we go down.  I think - but even pretty much everywhere, among the hesitant, there is some advantage of a religious leader having information about the vaccine, and interacting with folks who are vaccine-hesitant here. 

I'm going to - we in the survey, we tested a number of different approaches, and we took a fairly fine-grained approach to this to kind of see which factors, kind of which religion factors might be efficacious for encouraging people to get the vaccine.  So, here are six different things that we have in the survey.  A religious leader encouraging someone to get the vaccine.  Your religious community holding a forum to discuss the safety of the vaccine.  A religious leader getting the vaccine in a public way, or a member getting a vaccine you know about.  That religious congregation is being a site for the vaccine or the community providing some kind of assistance and getting an appointment to get the vaccine. 

Here are the individual impacts of these.  And so, in other words among those who are vaccine-hesitant, that is the percentage, 13% say that a religious leader encouraging them to get the vaccine would make them more likely.  And even among those who refuse 4% say a religious leader would make you more likely to get the vaccine.  What's notable about this is that even though these numbers range from 11$ to 14% individually when you actually put them together and ask people like whether one or more of these things, the impact actually grows.  So, in other words, it's not the same people saying that a religious leader would be important as say that congregation being a site would be important.  Each of these kind of has a little bit of a different valence and a little bit of a different pull among them. 

And they all are fairly related.  Like, so in other words, if a congregation were - agreed to be a site, it's pretty likely that the religious leader would be an example and that they might have a community forum to discuss it as well.  So, when you put all these together here's what the picture basically looks like.  Among all Americans, if you say one or more of these six approaches would they make you more likely to get the vaccine?  We find that 21% - 26%, so about a quarter of all Americans who are vaccine-hesitant say that one or more of these face-based approaches would make them more likely to get the vaccine.  And about one in 10 Americans, even who are in the refuser category, say that one or more of these approaches would make them more likely to get the vaccine. 

If we drop down to all Americans who attend religious services regularly, that is a few - at least a few times a year, we find that the impact is actually quite stronger.  We get you know, upward approaching half.  44% of all Americans who attend religious services regularly say that one of these face-based approaches would make them more likely to get the vaccine, and 14% of those who are refusers.  And then we're going to look at these two categories, the ones that Natalie highlighted white evangelical Protestants, African-American Protestants.  There are two groups again among whom a majority are either vaccine-hesitant or refusing.  And to look at the impact that a faith-based approach or faith-based approaches would have.  So, among all white evangelical Protestants, it's about four and 10of those who are hesitant, say that a faith-based approach would make them more likely, 4% of those who refuse. 

But if we look at those who attend religious services regularly, again, the impact jumps to nearly half.  So, 47% of white evangelicals who regularly attend services say that one or more of these faith-based approaches would make them more likely to get vaccinated.  And again, almost one in 10 even of those who are currently in the refuser category.  We see not quite as strong an effect among African-American Protestants, but pretty close.  More than a third.  Also among Hispanic Catholics, it's about a third as well.  We didn't have the sample size of breakout Hispanic Protestant who are hesitant here separately, but the overall Hispanic number is 30% as well.  So, giving us pretty strong confidence that it is also about a third of Hispanics overall, and a third of Hispanic Protestants would be in this camp as well. 

So, you can see a pretty strong effect here particularly among groups that are more vaccine-hesitant that this could be a solution to actually help us get us across the finish line.  It's also notable though that even if we look at groups that are not particularly a religious group, we still see significant effects.  Here, so we look at multi-racial Americans, African-Americans as a whole, not just those who identify as Protestant or go to church.  We still see about three in 10 of those in the hesitant category saying that a faith-based approach will make them more likely to get vaccinated.  Other groups here as well, that we see even among younger Americans who are less likely to be attached to churches, nonetheless, even though that's true, about a quarter of them and nearly one in 10 of those who - about a quarter of those who are hesitant about one in 10 of those who are refusers, nonetheless, in this group also say that they would be more likely to get the vaccine if they were approached - if they - if one of these - one or more of these faith-based approaches were in play.  And that's also true for rural Americans as a whole as well. 

So, while it is a demonstratively powerful tool among religious communities it also cuts across many of these other demographic groups.  These faith-based approaches could be a valuable tool really across the board.  Also, if you get away from demographics and look a little bit about just people who have major concerns, and we tested a bunch of different concerns about the virus.  Those who have major concerns, again a faith-based - these state-based approaches could move as many as three in10 of those who are vaccine-hesitant and almost one in 10 of those who are vaccine-refusers more closer to getting a vaccine.  And you'll see it play out even among those who have lesser concerns.  This also is true, but especially even those who have major concerns it - this could be a powerful part of the solution package. 

And then Natalie mentioned at the end of her piece QAnon and that really strong correlation between the stronger you believe in the QAnon conspiracy theories, the more vaccine-hesitant or refusing that you tend to be.  And we find in fact that you know, while those who disagree with QAnon, look about like the general population does in terms of how effective faith-based approaches would be.  But we find particularly among that group that agrees with QAnon conspiracy theories that faith-based approaches are actually more effective with them.  And more of that group, 36% say that they'd be more likely to get vaccinated if one or more of these faith-based approaches were in play and available to them.  So, with that, I'm going to turn it over to my colleague Eboo who will take us through - so that's what the data says.  So, what does this mean?  Where does it take us?  You know if we look ahead and we look for solutions on the ground what does the data suggest?  

Eboo Patel: Right.  Thank you, Robbie.  So, I am not hesitant about the vaccine, but I do get nervous around numbers.  And so for the last week, my friend, Robbie and Natalie have been saying, all right, here's the only thing you have to remember, right?  You only have to remember one set of things.  This is what it ought to be.  A quarter, a half, and a third.  A quarter of all vaccine-hesitant Americans say they would be receptive to one or more faith-based approaches.  That would move them towards acceptance.  A quarter of all vaccines-hesitant Americans.  Half, half of all white evangelicals say that they would be receptive.  And a third, a third of all black Protestants and Hispanic or Latino Protestants say that they would be receptive.  A quarter, a half, and a third.  So, those are significant numbers amongst the segments of our nation who need to be encouraged towards the vaccine.  A quarter, a half, and a third. 

Part of what this package of data suggests to me, at least, is that broad [inaudible] messages have done a really effective job so far, but might be at the ends of their effectiveness.  They brought us to the 40-yard line, or the 30-yard line, and the long last mile into the end zone is going to be the ground gate.  And so that's going to be person-to-person, it's going to be church-to-church, it's going to be congregant-to-congregate, it's going to be town-to-town.  We have seen a lot of really wonderful anecdotal stories.  These are some of the headlines about the role of say black churches and black clergy, particularly in encouraging people - their congregants to take the vaccine.  These are hard numbers in the largest, most comprehensive, most detailed survey done to date.  That that is true that religious engagement, particularly in a personalized, localized way really does encourage people to take the vaccine. 

And let me give you a little bit of texture on that.  So, my friend Reverend Otis Moss III, who's the Senior Pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ here in Chicago gave me this great image of this.  He said, listen, an individual who in her doctor's office expresses hesitancy about the vaccine when she is a patient, when she is in my church as a congregant, and I talk about the body as the temple of the Holy spirit, and I talk about our responsibility to the rest of our society as Christians who follow Jesus, that individual gets encouraged to take the vaccine.  The same individual as a patient is hesitant, as a congregant is encouraged.  I think one of the powerful things here is that for all the talk about the erosion of religion, et cetera, et cetera, it turns out religious communities are still quite strong repositories of trust, and religious leaders are, in fact, messengers of trust in key segments of our population.  And so this person-to-person engagement, this ground game in this long last mile cannot get to herd immunity without dealing with religious identity.  We really look to religious communities and clergy to help. 

So, we at IFYC working with this data have three specific recommendations that we would like to offer as an organization that kind of does a lot of programmatic work.  This is for public health officials, it's for government officials, it's for those of us in the community who care about this, and are - want to do our part.  Number one, really expand faith-based vaccination sites.  There are powerful pictures of black churches hosting vaccination clinics.  Of Mosjids hosting vaccination clinics.  It really does make a difference.  In part because by working with a faith community or a house of worship as a vaccination site, you obviously have to get the clergy to buy in.  You've created a conversation within that community.  We know that that works for some people.  You got kind of the phone trees working.  You've got the person-to-person contact working.  You're kind of working that virtuous circle of trust.  And so, expanding faith-based vaccination sites, we think really does matter. 

Let me say, you know, in particular geographies, in particular communities, this might not be your first go-to.  We were talking with our friend Curtis Chang yesterday, who's done terrific videos on the Bible and the vaccine.  And he said, well, you know, that's likely to work in black Protestant churches.  It certainly has already.  We know that from the numbers.  It could well work in a number of Hispanic Protestant churches.  It might not work as well in white evangelical mega churches.  We still think that this is an important strategy to attempt, but of course, geography, particular community, those things vary.  But that's the first thing we want to put on the table. 

The second thing is we are so impressed by this set of numbers and we think that this ought to be regular.  There ought to be faith, attitudes, and the vaccine tracker that's similar to the Kaiser Family Foundation's general tracker about attitudes towards the vaccine.  One that focuses specifically on how religious attitudes are moving.  I mean, the way that black clergy have encouraged their congregants to take the vaccine is remarkable.  The fact that 57% of black Protestants who go to church say that they are encouraged to take the vaccine, whereas 43% or a lower number say that they're not, it shows the impact of black clergy over time.  We should be seeing the impact over time on a variety of religious communities when it comes to the - to vaccine attitudes.  Clearly this is a moving picture and not a still photograph.  And so continuous polling and kind of a visual tracker that the nation can follow in this long last mile, we think it's important. 

And the final thing that we would like to propose is that communities across the country have some form of a health care ambassador program that is able to deal directly with faith.  You know, from [inaudible] to Tallahassee to [inaudible], to Fresno, all of these localities, partnerships between mega churches, and community foundations, and mayor's offices, should stand up some kind of what we at IFYC are calling a faith and the vaccine ambassador program.  People who are trained and we hope paid over the course of the next six months to start conversations within diverse communities, faith, racial, ethnic about the importance of the vaccine.  To be able to work within the spiritual and religious frameworks of diverse people, encouraging them to take the vaccine.  To be able to establish those information sessions in congregations.  To help people with the travel and logistics.  To do the person-to-person, hand-to-hand work that is characteristic of an effective ground game. 

We at IFYC have - don't want to just tell other people want to do we want to model it ourselves.  And so we have actually stood up our own faith in the vaccine ambassador program.  To all the faculty on this webinar who have said yes to being a part of that, thank you.  To all IFYC alumni who have said yes to being a part of that, thank you.  We are looking to mobilize 100 campuses.  You can see where we have kind of geographic strongholds across the country.  We're looking to mobilize ambassadors1000 campuses.  A total of about 2000 ambassadors.  Clusters in three cities, Chicago, Atlanta, and Charlotte, thank you to the philanthropies and foundations who have made that happen.  And those people will be making phone calls, going door to door, setting up information sessions in temples, and gurdwaras, and mosjids, and churches, and encouraging people by the dozens, by the hundreds, by the thousands, the things that are characteristic of a ground game to get the vaccine.  Responding to their very reasonable questions, working within their spiritual or religious frameworks, doing the kind of person-to-person work that we think is necessary to a ground game. 

We would love to work with mayors offices across the country to help them stand up their own ambassadors program.  We'd love to work with community foundations to help them stand up their ambassadors program.  But we think that this kind of work is key to getting to herd immunity.  So, with that, I will pass it on to Liz.  Thank you so much for your attention. 

Liz Hamel: Great.  Hi everyone.  Thanks for having me here today, and really thanks to these groups for collecting and reporting on what I think really is a unique set of data that adds to the body of knowledge about COVID-19 vaccine attitudes.  So, at KFF we launched a series of surveys back in December through our COVID-19 vaccine monitor, and we've been tracking the public's attitudes and experiences over time.  In that work, we've been able to go deep on the views of black and Hispanic adults and people living in rural areas, but we're limited in how much we can say about the role of religious identity.  So, one thing I'm consistently saying to people when they ask me what our research shows about how to communicate with people about these vaccines, is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach.  And it's important to engage not only the medical community and the public health community, but all sorts of other trusted leaders and community stakeholders.  And that includes religious institutions.  So, I'm really hopeful that the information you've provided today will be helpful in those efforts. 

Natalie and Robbie asked me to put the findings of this new survey in the context of what we've learned in our own work, tracking these attitudes over time.  And so I'll just make a few broad points, and then I look forward to the discussion.  So, what we've seen over time is that enthusiasm for getting the vaccine has increased as more and more people see their friends and family members get vaccinated.  Our March survey numbers we use the same question that PRRI used in their survey, and our March numbers line up very closely with what Natalie presented because scientific surveys work. 

But just to tell you how that has changed over time.  So, in December we saw that just a third of the public said that they were ready to get the vaccine as soon as it was available to them.  And then by March, that was up to about six and 10, who said that they had already been vaccinated or say they want it as soon as possible.  At the same time that we've seen that enthusiasm increase, we've seen that the share of people who want to wait and see how the vaccine is working for others before getting it themselves, it decreased.  From December, it was 39% down to 17% in March.  So that critical wait-and-see group has sort of been converted over time.  Many of them to wanting to get the vaccine as soon as possible.  At the same, time where we haven't seen movement is in that small share of the public that PRRI is referring to as refusers.  The group that says they're definitely not going to get the vaccine.  That has been between 13% to 15% in each of our surveys, and it hasn't really moved in any measurable way. 

And in terms of who is most and least likely to want to get the vaccine, the demographic breaks that we see in our surveys are very similar to those that Natalie showed by age, education, partisanship, and race ethnicity.  I do want to talk a little bit about the difference between sort of the hesitant or what we call the wait-and-see group and the refusers.  The people who definitely don't want to get the vaccine.  Because they're very different groups and they require very different strategies for trying to address their concerns.  The wait-and-see group has a lot of questions about the vaccine that they want to have answers before they're ready to get it.  Number one, the number one concern is side effects, but I'll talk about a few of the others in a second. 

But the refusers, that small group of the public that says they definitely don't want to get the vaccine.  They're just proportionately Republican and white evangelical.  They have a set of attitudes towards the virus that is quite different from the rest of the country.  They overwhelmingly feel like the seriousness of the pandemic has been exaggerated in the news.  They're much less likely to be personally worried about themselves or someone in their family getting sick.  They're less likely to say they wear masks when they go out in public.  So, this group reflects a very different challenge and a different messaging strategy than those who want the protection from the vaccine, are worried about the disease, but they have concerns about side effects or safety. 

An important point though that I always like to make is that none of these groups is monolithic.  We see a lot of stories in the news where hesitancy, I think has been over-hyped, things like nobody in rural areas wants these vaccines, all black people are vaccine-hesitant.  We found within almost every demographic group, a majority is at least somewhat open to getting the vaccine.  Emphasize that small group that just doesn't view Coronavirus as a threat.  Most people who are labeled as hesitant have a set of very legitimate questions and concerns they want to have addressed before making the decision about whether to get vaccinated. 

So, another thing that we often get asked is what would make people more likely to get the vaccine?  We just heard a lot about some different religious approaches.  We've also tested various messages and we found that the most effective message is to emphasize how effective these vaccines are, particularly, when it comes to preventing severe disease and death.  That's the message that really seems to resonate with the largest share of people in that wait-and-see group.  Another thing that's really been a concern among the public is the speed at which the vaccines were developed.  And so we found that telling people that although the vaccines themselves are new, scientists have been working on this technology for 20 years, that's also a message that works for many in the wait-and-see group. 

But I also want to emphasize, this is not just about messaging.  It's about making sure we have policies to address vaccine access as well.  We found that many people, particularly, people of color are concerned about having to take time off of work to get vaccinated or having to take time off of work if they experience side effects from the vaccine.  Others are worried about difficulty traveling to vaccine sites or not being able to get the vaccine from a place that they trust.  These are concerns that won't be addressed with messages, but they could be addressed by policies, for example, that give workers paid time off or make sure vaccines are available at trusted locations in certain communities.  And this is one of the reasons I think that engaging a faith community is really important to increase those points of contact where people can get trusted information and perhaps even go to receive their vaccination.  So that's the end of my comments.  I think I will now be turning it over to Paul, who's going to speak about the - what this all means. 

Paul Raushenbush: Well, I'm actually - so my name is Paul Raushenbush.  I'm the Senior Advisor for Public Affairs at IFYC.  Long-term admirer of the entire team at PRRI, and so glad to be with you.  My honor is to actually do - help with running a Q&A, but first, I'll invite Eboo, and Natalie, and Robbie to come back on and show your lovely faces.  And we will first before we go into the Q&A invite just a quick round of what you heard from one another.  And if in the actually presenting this material, something occurred to you that you might want to just add to your presentation or offer to the - our audience who are listening.  Is there - are there any additional thoughts that came from hearing one another present?  

Natalie Jackson: I will speak to that first.  You know, this is such an incredibly rich data set that we could spend a lot more time discussing it.  Our teams have been very much in the weeds these last few weeks analyzing this data and, you know, I'm already seeing some excellent questions in the Q&A box.  So, I think I'm going to leave it there and just say the incredible value of this data and being able to discuss these things, the one number that really jumped out to me was the black Protestant, and that we had these anecdotal news stories about black churches getting involved in the vaccination efforts.  And then our data actually seemed to bear that out with the attend of services versus don't.  So that was kind of my biggest aha thing from the data. 

Paul Raushenbush: Robbie, or Eboo, or Liz, any comments before we open it up to the questions?  

Robert P. Jones: I'll jump in just real quickly.  So, I grew up in Mississippi.  So, we all been kind of seeing these maps of geographic places that are lagging behind.  Mississippi is one of the places lagging behind.  And so, this combination of groups that are more hesitant kind of coalescing.  They're like white Republicans, white evangelical Protestants, African-American Protestants.  And notably, the New York Times reported just a few weeks ago over 70,000 vials of vaccine sitting on the shelves.  And Mississippi right there because there's just not people coming to get them even though the state has opened it up to everyone.  And I think that's just a really poignant example of kind of where we are. 

And again, just at this moment I think Liz is totally right about like we were going to use everything at our disposal to get us here.  We need a whole variety because people are coming at this from different complex and sometimes intersectional concerns about the vaccines or about historical discrimination by the healthcare system or a kind of a political perspective that makes them skeptical about the need for it.  And sometimes these things kind of intersect in complex ways.  But if we're thinking about bringing all of the tools that we have at our disposal, I think this - the faith factor has got to be one of the tools that we reach for and don't leave it in the toolbox.  And that's a really, if there's anything, I think we're saying like this is a tool that really has to be among the things that we're marshaling as we're kind of reaching and bringing all of our cultural resources to really - to solving these problems. 

Eboo Patel: Yeah.  One of the things that struck me was Liz highlighting that this is not just about messaging.  I think that's absolutely the case.  It's also about access; it's about policies.  And I think one of the things that faith communities can provide as repositories of trust and that faith in the vaccine ambassadors-type programs can provide, is kind of intimate conversations, and phone calls with people who say, look, I'm concerned about - I don't know how I'm going to get to a vaccination site.  Well our ambassadors are being trained to help people with logistics.  Or I live alone and I've heard that second shot is a real doozy, and I can't afford having 102 degree fever and shakes for 24 hours when I'm alone, but we can stay with you.  So, those are the kinds of things that pastors and imams, and rabbis, and priests from a variety of religious communities, we've been doing that for millennia. 

And that's the kind of thing that engaging faith communities can contribute to beyond just this is a scriptural thing to do.  It's very much the kind of pastoral care and community engagement and even feedback loop to mayor's offices and governor's.  Like, look, you got to give people a day off.  You got to encourage businesses and the state to give people a day off as President Biden just did.  This isn't a cure-all, but when you're on the 30-yard line, and there aren't any more 30-yard plays left to get to the end zone, you're looking for three to five yards in any way you can get it.  And we think that this is an important set of steps in the ground game to herd immunity. 

Paul Raushenbush: Thank you.  If I don't hear anything else from the panel, I will start us off with the questions.  I'm going to start with a question from Jack who is wondering if any of the faith-based approaches stood out.  I - do we have a granular data showing which faith-based approach from the list of six options that white evangelicals, Hispanic Protestants, and black Protestants consistently said would be the most likely to make people more likely to get a vaccine?  

Natalie Jackson: I will take this one because I saw that in the quick Q&A box, and took a quick look at it.  I also sent this via email to you Jack, by the way.  So, the - this is in your inbox.  I looked quickly at white evangelical Protestants and black Protestants.  For white evangelicals, the three most influential of the approaches we asked about were a religious leader getting the vaccine, a religious leader encouraging to get the vaccine, and the forum held by the religious congregation about the safety of the vaccines.  Those three were roughly about would - indicated they would move about 20% of white evangelical hesitants in each case.  Among black Protestants by far the most influential approach would be the forum on the safety of the vaccines.  Almost 30% of black Protestants who are hesitant say that that would make them more likely to get the vaccine.  All of the other five interventions would move roughly 18% to 20%.  So, we definitely see the impact of the safety forum. 

Robert P. Jones: Just one quick thing I'd add to that, that's interesting about it is that each of these do pick up, and I think to Liz's point even among a group, a homogeneous group, like white evangelical Protestants, each of these things picks up slightly different slices of the route.  So, the cumulative effect is bigger than just any of these one of six.  So, it's not the case that it's the same people who say the congregation leader would be the same or the congregation being a site would make them, or a forum would make them more likely.  It's - you're getting kind of a little bit some of the same, and you're getting a few more as you go.  So, a kind of multi-pronged approach.  It really does get you the most effect. 

Paul Raushenbush: Okay.  Another question is from Deborah who is asking if we have data on faith leaders themselves, as they - can - seem to be important influencers.  Are there - do we have discreet data on faith leaders?  

Liz Hamel: I'll jump in on that one.  We do not - we don't I have self-identified faith leaders in this data.  That would certainly be a follow-up project that would be very useful. 

Paul Raushenbush: I want to offer one other - this one I think is - it should be directed, if I can find it to Eboo.  This is talking about religion as a health asset.  It's a health asset approach.  This is from Matthew.  An approach that is taken up globally.  E.G, studies by WHO, World Bank, more recently it has been promoted in the US, in Memphis in Winston Salem.  And just to curious about this framework as religion as a health asset and among public health experts.  And so I'm just curious how you - how that parses with what we're talking about today. 

Eboo Patel: The funny thing, I mean, Paul might be offering a rise smile there, because this is all that I've talked about at IFYC for the last two months, right?  Is the overlap between - and the intersection between religious identity and health.  And I just go back to that beautiful kind of image from our friend Reverend Otis Moss III.  The same individual, when she's a patient in a doctor's office might say, actually, I'm not going to take your advice when it comes to diet, because I don't care what you think even though you're my doctor.  But when she's a congregant in my church, and I talk about the body as a temple of the Holy Spirit, and I talk about doing a Daniel fast, I talk about the variety of things that are in our tradition that can - that are about the soul and the body, she will listen to me. 

And there's been a whole range of studies, not done - not just on religious communities as kind of social capital to be mobilized.  In a community health worker-type framework, which I think is super important, but actually spiritual frameworks that help people understand healthy living as a part of a mind body soul approach.  And if you think about, you know, yoga was not invented by Lululemon Yoga was invented by Kendall Rishi thousands of years ago as a practice at the intersection of spirituality and health.  And so, this is not new.  It is very, very old.  It is a wisdom tradition that religious communities have carried for millennia.  And it's time to lean into it get a positive and proactive way. 

Paul Raushenbush: Thank you.  Mark asks if there's any specific geographic data that directs where the most impactful efforts might be made in this survey?  

Natalie Jackson: In general, our geographies are pretty broad that we've looked at thus far.  So, we would need to dive in a little bit more to the data.  But on a big picture-level, the broad geography of the country we generally see the Northeast and the West being a tiny bit more vaccine-acceptor than the Midwest and the South.  But again, that - those are really broad, big picture-regions. 

Paul Raushenbush: Maybe something for future research.  There's a question from Tony about where faith groups might be standing on having their children vaccinated.  My guess is that this is not something we asked in this survey, but I'm wondering if maybe Liz, if you've seen any data on this or anyone else in the panel. 

Liz Hamel: Yeah, we are actually asking that in the field now, but we haven't asked it yet.  And I think we're at this stage with vaccination for children now that we were sort of at in November, December with vaccination for adults.  It's still kind of a hypothetical.  It's not available for children yet.  And so I suspect we're at the beginning of starting to track how parents feel about vaccinating their children, and expect we'll have more people in the hesitant categories for that until we actually have an approved vaccine for children and start seeing that happening on the ground. 

Paul Raushenbush: This is a strategic question from Elizabeth.  What plans are in place to sharing this report with national denominational offices?  

Robert P. Jones: Well, I can take that one.  So, you know, today is the launch.  It is the kind of initial foray getting it out there.  But I think one of the things about PRRI and IFYC is - that we have these connections and relationships and these are our friends.  We're absolutely going to be getting this out far and far and wide.  Today is kind of the trumpet blast of getting the message out there that the data's there.  But we're making it widely publicly available.  And just to kind of plug this down[?] the full report so what you've seen today is like a slice of the full report.  But there is a multi-kind of more than a dozen charts and 20 something pages of analysis out that's available to everyone out there.  But we're absolutely going to engage in kind of making sure we get this out and into the public domain.  And it's all publicly out there.  The full questionnaire by the way is out and available.  If you want to look at the - every question we asked on the survey, we always make that available for every survey we release. 

Paul Raushenbush: This is a good question that - Oh, go ahead, Eboo. 

Eboo Patel: No, I just want to say we're also working with large interfaith groups on this.  So, I think my friend Mohammad El [inaudible] is on this webinar and his colleague Sarah Tyler who are the conveners of faith for vaccines.  We spoke with Jim Wallace who is helping to convene that group.  Also, that's probably the group that's working most closely with the white house, the group of religious leaders from diverse backgrounds working most closely with the white house in these kinds of issues.  And so we're being very proactive about getting these findings in front of them.  And more than just the data, the kind of recommendations that the data points towards.  And so Salaam to you, Mohammad, if you are on here, and hello to you, Sarah, and we're very grateful for the kind of work that you're doing. 

Paul Raushenbush: There's a question from Maria, which I think gets into the human side of all of this and the difficulties.  She asks, have you heard anything about using strategies of highlighting healthcare disparities in hospital care?  My black older adult father has experienced terrible cares in the hospital in the past.  And this was part of my motivation to get vaccinated.  I wanted to avoid the poor care that blacks get in a hospital.  It doesn't necessarily speak directly into this work, but I am wondering if anyone has a response to that and how it might intersect with the data that we've found. 

Liz Hamel: I mean, I can say from our work that we know one of the reasons that black and Hispanic people have had more hesitancy or been more questioning of these vaccines has to do with both historic and this treatment of those groups in the medical system, but also things that they and their family members have experienced and continue to experience.  And so I think that it, you know, you can't address this in a vacuum without understanding that context.  And there's not an easy solution to that.  I've heard people say, well, now's the time we can repair all those wounds.  You know, it's a big issue to take on.  And I think, again, it's one of those things where it's a ground game of taking on person-by-person, but also recognizing what's happening within those institutions.  It's not a problem of people's attitudes being mistrustful, it's addressing those systems that are creating those experiences and trying to improve those things at the same time. 

Paul Raushenbush: Thank you.  This is a question directed - from Harrison directed at Natalie.  And it's complicated and it's - so I assume you're going to know what it means, even if I don't.  The comment about intersection raises a question about whether you had a chance - had an opportunity to sort out the relative importance among the variables known to be inter correlated. 

Natalie Jackson: Yes.  So that is a great question.  You know, just a little bit of - 

Paul Raushenbush: Maybe you can translate it for those of us - 

Natalie Jackson: That's exactly what I was going to say.  You know, so what we've shown you here are what we call cross tabs.  It's the basic statistics of the hesitancy rates by each of these sub-groups.  What this question is asking is have we looked at how all of those things interact together.  And in a statistical sense, you do this with regression modeling, which allows you to put all of the variables together into a model and see what sticks out as important when everything is considered together.  So, what we've shown you is the, you know, one-at-a-time type of thing.  I have looked at this a little bit in regression modeling form, and the effects seem to be distinct.  And by that I mean even when you put it all together, you still get party matters, age matters education matters, religion matters. 

So, everything's still - amazingly enough, all of these relationships still hold up independently when you put them all together, which is somewhat surprising because typically when we do something like that, we'll see where party actually accounts for a considerable amount of the explanation.  And maybe something else that showed up in the individual relationships is maybe not as important.  But in this case, there actually are pretty strong relationships.  And I will point to kind of my - a little bit of my own hobby horse with this data is the Republican media use and the media - that media use very much matters in a regression model format as well. 

Paul Raushenbush: There's a question from Catherine about where Gen Z folks fall into this, and do these younger folks fall into FM, Hispanic, white?  Do we have a breakdown of the age differential?  

Natalie Jackson: I'm sorry, could you repeat that real quick, Paul?  

Paul Raushenbush: Yeah, yeah, yeah.  No problem.  No problem.  It is - the question, can you discuss where Gen Z folks fall into, I think this broad, like a breakdown between FM, Hispanic, and white.  Is do we have that separated out by age, our findings on those categories?  That's my interpretation of the question. 

Natalie Jackson: Thank you.  That was actually what I was looking at, so that's kind of funny.  So, Gen Z is just as a baseline is very similar to the overall 18 to 29 category.  They don't significantly differ on the baseline hesitancy status.  In general, what we see in all surveys is that the younger populations are more diverse than the older.  And so that certainly holds here.  We - so the survey is balanced to be representative of the population.  So, the Gen Z subset is going to look like Gen Z in the actual population. 

Paul Raushenbush: Here's a question on the general attitudes of atheists and non-believers towards vaccines.  Is there a structure that can reach out to them if they are resistant?  So that's two-part.  Do we do - what do we know about the attitudes about vaccine hesitancy among atheists and non-believers, first of all.  And then - it's quite an interesting question.  The second part of it, what are the structures to reach out to people who identify in those categories, is the second part of the question.  It may be that one of - Robbie or Natalie wants to take the first, and perhaps Eboo you might be interested in taking that second part. 

Natalie Jackson: So, what we know about those who are religiously unaffiliated is that they are generally on the slightly more vaccine acceptance side than the general population.  We had about 60% acceptant.  We had similar proportions to the full population, hesitant and refuser.  We don't have the sample size here to separate out atheists.  They're usually about 3% to 5% of the population.  So, we don't quite get there in this survey.  But in general, we know it's a pretty mixed, you know, the unaffiliated group is fairly mixed in their views and kind of - almost kind of a snapshot of the American population as a whole 

Paul Raushenbush: Eboo, do you want to try to spend any time on the specific outreach to atheist and agnostic populations?  It's an interesting question for our field of interfaith relations which we could spend the next 40 minutes on but- 

Eboo Patel: Right.  So, one of the things that at IFYC, we have long viewed interfaith work as being about diverse.  What - our geeky term for this is diverse orientations around religion, which includes everything from sufi and salafi when it comes to Islam and atheist agnostic when it comes to belief in God period.  So, the idea is that that the United States is characterized by a variety of approaches to religious identity, including disaffiliated or none at all, or proactive non-believer.  I think one of the things that's - so when we speak of interfaith efforts, we speak of everybody.  Atheist [inaudible] and the variety of orientations in between.  That's number one. 

Number two, I think one of the things that's striking is that it is often the case that faith-oriented communities and even religious leaders, are trusted messengers beyond the circle of congregants.  And we see that in the data here around African-American.  So, yes, we were making a lot of the number 57% of African-Americans who go to services are leaning towards the vaccine.  But even the 40 plus percent who don't, that's a high number of people that are being encouraged, even if they are not part of a faith community, specifically, they may well have higher trust in a member of the clergy.  They may well have more comfort at a faith-based non-profit than the united center as a vaccination clinic. 

And so I don't think that faith-based approaches are a magic bullet, but I also don't think they are only for church-goers at mosque-goers.  Part of what we're discovering here is these in fact are repositories of trust, where in a crisis moment, people turn to them[?] and we should - and they want to be engaged.  And I think we're seeing that with profound effectiveness in the black community. 

Robert P. Jones: Just to add one quick thing to that I think is really important.  And one of the slides I showed was showing that even beyond religious communities, that these faith based approaches had some impact.  That even among rural communities as a whole, Republicans as a whole, even young people as a whole.  About a quarter, they're hesitant.  Say they'd be more likely to get a vaccine as a result of one of these faith-based approaches even in these non-religious groups.  And the only other thing I'll say about the unaffiliated, we're getting a better and better picture of who that group is as it's ballooned.  It's a quarter of all Americans; it's 40% of young people.  So, it's a big diverse group.  It's not just the atheist agnostic group.  And in fact, that group is not the biggest group among that group of religiously unaffiliated people. 

And just one little thing, it kind of helps you understand the complexity is even among the unaffiliated, as many of a third of them say that religion is nonetheless still an important part of their life.  So, it's kind of notable that even though they're unaffiliated, that is they're not claiming a religious affiliation.  If you ask them a different question, say, is a religion important to your life, as many as a third say yes.  At least somewhat to that question 

Paul Raushenbush: Thank you so much.  You, Robbie, you just touched on rural communities, and there's a question from Janet about rural communities being the - she says rural communities are the least vaccinated.  Accessibility is a serious issue.  How can this work by faith-based communities help to create literal hubs for vaccine delivery.  E.G, using their space to create pop-up clinics.  And I think there's - I think Liz, you might be interested in answering some of that, but then I do think this is a kind of a squarely in the realm of what we're talking about here. 

Liz Hamel: Yeah.  I can answer.  What we've seen - we actually did a survey with a big over sample of people living in rural communities, and we were surprised to find actually the opposite that they had good early access compared to urban and suburban communities.  So, in terms of the number of people that said that there wasn't enough supply of vaccine in their community, that there were enough places for people to get vaccinated.  And the share had that - had been able to get vaccinated themselves early on, was actually quite high in rural communities.  That said, there is a larger portion in rural communities that is in that resistant category to getting the vaccine.  But one thing that was really interesting, you know, Natalie talked about doing a regression analysis, trying to find out what's most important, we found that when we controlled for party identification and being a white evangelical Protestant, who we know are more likely to live in rural communities, actually that the importance of living in a rural community sort of went away in that model. 

And so that it's not -there's not something particular about being someone who lives in a rural community that makes you more likely to be resistant to getting the vaccine.  It's just a matter of the demographics of who lives there.  So, that said, I think there - that's at a national level, we found good early access in rural communities.  But I think, we know that there are places where it is really difficult for people to get the vaccine.  There are not enough sites.  So, as Eboo talked about that ground game, I think it still is really important to focus on how you get the vaccine to people in rural communities who are having challenges. 

Paul Raushenbush: There are - yes, sorry, Robbie.  Go ahead. 

Robert P. Jones: Just one quick thing to add.  I mean, I think it - that's dead on.  Thanks, Liz for that.  One thing to kind of know about rural communities too, is to think about the churches and other religious congregations in rural communities tend to be civic centers.  So, where have people been picking up food during this pandemic?  A lot of times churches, other synagogues, mosques, had been serving as those kinds of sites where people, as long as schools and other spaces.  People tend to sometimes they are voting places, that kind of thing.  So, people are see them with libraries and post offices, and things as part of the civic infrastructure of the community.  And particularly for rural communities that have been struggling where business had been boarded up, and many of those places religious congregations are some of the last real kind of civic infrastructure standing there.  So, it's really important, I think in the - in those places where this could be like a real part of the solution.  And particularly as Liz said, if it - if the lines of resistance are running through, for example, evangelical identity it is a real part of kind of unlocking that resistance, 

Eboo Patel: This somewhat piggybacks on that.  There's several questions around how would you advise faith leaders to present the information in this report?  And how would you advise them to help encourage hesitants and resistors to take the vaccination?  Like what are the essential messages for that, that you think are important?  And essentially, how should we be translating what we have in this report?  And this is a little editorializing for myself, translating what we have in this report to equip the faith leaders out there to really move on this effort?  

Robert P. Jones: Eboo, do you want to take the lead on that one?  

Eboo Patel: Sure.  So, my sense is that faith leaders they're experts in this.  They are experts in engaging their congregants, and[?] the broader communities, most sensitive, deepest kind of challenges and issues.  Like they are there at weddings, they are their funerals, they are there at births, et cetera, et cetera.  I think the most important thing is to say, you're on the field.  This is your part of the game.  In our ambassador training that I over I see we, you know, and of course this is with college students and faculty members.  So, there's a training and motivational reasoning, there's trainings in - meaning helping people have conversations where their concerns are taken seriously, and they effectively talk themselves into the end zone.  By having an interlocutor who is they're listening and nodding, and maybe prodding this way and that, that's all a part of ambassador training.  It's kind of standard community health worker stuff. 

It's the kind of thing that faith leaders do - it's what they learn when they go to seminary.  It's what they do on a daily basis.  And so I think the most important thing here is to say, Hey, you know, you are now equal partners in the enterprise.  Science and the supply chain have done a great job.  They're clearly still on the field.  Broadcast efforts have done a great job.  Thank you to all the great work of the ad council, and faith community leaders, and faith in the vaccine ambassadors, and faculty members, et cetera, et cetera.  You are now equal partners, and we need you on the field in a fulsome way. 

Paul Raushenbush: Robbie, did you have anything to add to that or?  

Robert P. Jones: I mean, the one thing I would add is that you know, what the data clearly shows is that there is great untapped potential here, particularly among white evangelicals.  I mean, the data shows that African-American clergy have been on the field to take - and that it's been effective.  Like we could see that and that attendance difference among were African-American Protestants who attend religious services much more likely to be vaccine acceptant.  You know, and we don't see that yet in the evangelical community, but we see, again, as many as half of white evangelicals who are vaccine hesitant say that a faith - that these faith-based approaches would encourage them, to make them more likely to take the vaccine.  So, I would say like the data is here, that like there is great untapped potential here at a critical time.  So, I'm hoping that would kind of help prevail like white evangelical - African-American leaders to continue to be in that space and white evangelicals to increasingly step into that space. 

Paul Raushenbush: Thank you.  This is a question from Susan.  I think this is Hispanics there was a question regarding fear of deportation.  Like what was it - did we ask that question - was there any fear of deportation was that involved in our inquiry at all?  I don't remember that being part of it, but maybe it was?  

Natalie Jackson: We do not have a question about fear of deportation on the survey, but we do have citizenship status.  So that's something that we will definitely take a look at as we continue to analyze the data. 

Liz Hamel: Yeah.  And we have heard anecdotally that there are concerns not only about fear of deportation, but documents that people are required to provide when they either sign up to get the vaccine, or when they go to get vaccinated, that that can be a concern for some people.  And we are actually collecting some additional data to be able to speak more broadly to that as well. 

Paul Raushenbush: I think this may be the last question, but - and this like kind of pulls the lens back.  Do we have any sense from this data, the impact of the political discord over the last past few years and how that connects to attitudes around the vaccine, or perhaps pre-existing attitudes - this is a second part to that question, pre-existing attitudes to vaccines that might be affecting vaccine in this part - in this moment?  

Natalie Jackson: I will jump in first and say, yes, absolutely.  I think one of the kind of overarching themes of all of this work collectively that everyone is doing on vaccine and vaccine hesitancy, it shows some pretty strong political polarization.  And in particular, in our data, we show some pretty strong media[?] effects, and it's a bit frustrating and that this has become politicized where perhaps it should not be.  And I saw Liz take herself off mute, so I'll hand over to her. 

Liz Hamel: Yeah.  I mean, just as somebody who has been studying public opinion on health policy for a long time you know obviously healthcare has been a political issue in our country, you know, things like the Affordable Care Act are very polarizing.  But in the past, we have not seen public health issues like this have the same level of polarization that we do about health policy issues.  And I really think, you know, this is - it's something we haven't dealt with in the past in terms of the level of polarization.  And just the - we tracked over time sort of trust in national public health messengers, like the CDC and Dr.  Anthony Fauci, and we saw at the really beginning of the pandemic trust being high in those across the board.  And then over the course of time, Republican's trust in those sources, really declining creating this big gap.  So, I do think it is a huge underlying factor in people's attitudes towards the vaccine, and probably one of the biggest challenges to confront. 

Paul Raushenbush: Thank you.  I'm going to invite Eboo and Robbie to give us some just final words on what - on today and thinking into the future.  We just have two minutes left.  So, perhaps Eboo, do you want to just offer us just a minute of final reflections and Robby you can send us off. 

Eboo Patel: I'm just going to go back to what I think the headline is here, which is that we don't get to herd immunity without engaging faith identity.  And that religious interventions are a key to ending this virus, and we should put them on the field. 

Robert P. Jones: And I'll just piggyback off of that and what Liz said.  Look, the virus doesn't care about our partisan tribalism, and I think our solutions are going to have to get beyond that as well.  And I think one of the more interesting things is how, you know, if you look at voting patterns, there are no two groups in the American religious landscape who vote differently more than white evangelical Protestants and African-American Protestants.  Such hugely different profiles, and yet each of them respond positively.  And there's great potential here to cut across our political divides, and any tool that lets us cut across these increasingly polarized times that we're in is a really valuable one.  And I think faith-based resources is one of the things that I was actually - it's one of the first things that jumped out at me is that these two opposite polarized groups nonetheless respond very positively to a similar kind of solution.  And it's one of the ways that - we talk a lot about how divides us, this might be one of the few places where religion can actually bring us together and help re-stitch the social fabric. 

Paul Raushenbush: I want to, on behalf of all of us who have been listening and learning, I want to thank all of the panelists and the principles Eboo Patel and Robert B.  Jones for this great work and more to come.  Please look at the report, reach out to any of us at PRRI or IFYC if you have further questions or would like to become involved in the work.  We'd love to have you be a part of this ongoing effort of maximizing the potential of religious communities in the effort to get America and the world vaccinated.  Thank you so much. 

If you are looking for a way to become an interfaith leader, work for racial equity and build bridges, please check out our free curriculum "We Are Each Other's" and start your interfaith leadership today

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The opinions contained in this piece are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Interfaith Youth Core. Interfaith America encourages a wide range of views and strives to maintain a respectful tone with a goal of greater understanding and cooperation between people of different faiths, worldviews, and traditions.