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The Delta Variant Is the Symptom of a Bigger Threat: Vaccine Refusal

Of the 39 percent of unvaccinated adults, around half say they are not vaccinated at all. But even within this group, some say they would do it if asked to.

Understand the state of vaccine mandates in the United States

Some are hesitant and may come with the right conviction from people they trust, while still others plan to get vaccinated but say they just didn’t stand a chance.

Politics is only a driver for some of these people, noted Dr. Richard Besser, a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In New Jersey, where he lives, rates fluctuate dramatically due to socio-economic factors. In the predominantly white Princeton, 75 percent of adults are vaccinated, compared to 45 percent in Trenton, only 22 kilometers away, which is very black and Latin American.

“Both are strong democratic areas so it’s really important to break things down and address the issues that are hindering vaccination progress in every segment of the unvaccinated population,” said Dr. Better.

However, there is no doubt that the political divide is playing a role in the rising infection rates. From the start, vaccinations in counties that voted for Donald J. Trump have lagged behind those in counties that voted for Joseph R. Biden, and the gap has only widened – from two percentage points in April to now almost 12 points, according to a recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

According to another poll nationwide, 86 percent of Democrats got at least one shot, compared with 52 percent of Republicans. Even the national goal of getting 70 percent of adults vaccinated by July 4th somehow became “Biden’s goal,” said Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, director of the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases Policy and Research at Boston University.

“Suddenly, even getting out of the pandemic became a left-versus-right problem.”

As of May, fewer than half of Republicans in the House of Representatives are vaccinated, compared with 100 percent of Democrats in Congress. For months, several Republican lawmakers, including Senators Ron Johnson from Wisconsin and Rand Paul from Kentucky, as well as conservative news commentators like Tucker Carlson, have voiced their skepticism about vaccines.

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