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Potential For Improved Vaccination Rates in Communities of Color: Project Ready Poll

As coronavirus infection rates drop and state officials push to get as many resident of the Garden State to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, new polling of New Jersey voters finds that significant gains have been made when it comes to increasing Black and Hispanic voters’ willingness to be vaccinated.

According to survey results from Change Research and commissioned by Newark-based non-profit Project Ready released June 1, the share of Black voters willing to be vaccinated increased to 69% in May from 62% in February, while 83% of Hispanic voters say they will be vaccinated, compared to 77% in February.

In addition, in light of vaccines now being available for children 12 and older, Black (54%) and Hispanic (59%) parents of middle and high school students are more likely to say they will vaccinate their children than White parents (39%).

Increasing Acceptance

“Even as they remain far less likely to already be vaccinated, communities of color are becoming increasingly comfortable with receiving the COVID-19 vaccines, and that’s a credit to the leaders across New Jersey whose outreach is showing early results,” said Project Ready Executive Director Shennell McCloud.

The poll was released as the New Jersey Department of Health makes its push to reach its goal of getting 70% of adult residents vaccinated by June 30. State officials are making strategic moves to get to those that have been hardest to reach so far. “Vaccine coverage across New Jersey is increasing, but there are pockets and groups with lower rates of vaccinations,” said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.

To that end, New Jersey’s COVID-19 Community Corps have been deployed in such municipalities as Newark, Passaic, Paterson, Bayonne, Jersey City, East Orange, Perth Amboy, New Brunswick, and Trenton to contact underserved communities to provide education, help with registration, and access to vaccination sites.

Communities of Color Emphasis

While the vaccination rate is lowest among communities of color and highest among White voters, many additional Black and Hispanic voters say they are willing to be vaccinated. Only 35% of Black voters say they are already vaccinated, but an additional 34% say they either have an appointment to receive the vaccine (10%), definitely plan to receive the vaccine (10%) or probably will receive the vaccine (14%).

By comparison, 56% of Hispanic and 68% of White voters say they are already vaccinated, with an additional 26% of Hispanic voters and 4% of White voters saying they would get the vaccine.

The most common reasons cited for not getting the vaccine include concerns about side effects, lack of trust in the government, perceived lack of need, concerns about a rushed timeline, and safety.

“This survey data demonstrates the significant progress we’ve made as a state in educating people about the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines, particularly in communities of color,” said Dr. Shereef Elnahal, President & CEO of University Hospital in Newark. “However, it also shows how much work we have to do to continue to get people vaccinated, so that every community is protected from the virus.”

Anti-Vaxxers

Overall, 73% of voters say they have or likely will receive the vaccine, compared to 27% who likely or definitely will not. That is a slight increase from 71% in February 2021 and 60% in November 2020.

Only 13% of Black voters, 10% of Hispanic voters, and 19% of White voters say they “definitely will not” receive the vaccine.

The strongest indicator of willingness to be vaccinated is partisanship. Ninety-three percent of Democrats say they have or likely will get the vaccine, compared to 64% of Independents and 51% of Republicans.

Only 7% of Democrats say they likely or definitely will not get the vaccine, compared to 36% of Independents and 49% of Republicans. Only 3% of Democrats say they “definitely will not” get the vaccine, compared to 24% of Independents and 39% of Republicans.

Newark Focus

Among Newark voters, 84% say they have or will likely get the vaccine while 16% say they definitely or likely will not, including only 9% who say they “definitely” will not. That is less than half of the state-wide rate (19%) who say they “definitely” will not be vaccinated.

Voters identified a variety of reasons for not getting the vaccine, but difficulty in making an appointment was cited by very few. Statewide, only 1% cited the difficulty of making an appointment as a main reason for not getting the vaccine; however, that included 7% of unvaccinated Black respondents.

Polling was conducted online from May 15-20, 2021. Using its Dynamic Online Sampling technology and SMS text messaging to attain a sample reflective of registered voters, Change Research polled 1,215 people in the state of New Jersey. This includes an oversample of 343 voters in the city of Newark.

Vaccine Distribution

The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 8,725,874 in-state, plus an additional 357,974 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 9,038,848 as of June 2. Of those who have received the vaccine, 4,091,985 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 167,908 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 4,259,893. 

Demographically, 54% of those vaccinated are women and 46% men. As for ethnicity, 52% are White, 14% Hispanic, 11% Asian, 7% Black, 9% other and 8% unknown. In regards to the age of those having received the vaccine, 28% are 65 years old or olders, 28% are between the ages of 50-64, 29% are between the ages of 30-49, and 16% are between the ages of 12-29.  

In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 957,679 doses (451,056 fully vaccinated), Essex 717,471 doses (331,307), Hudson 616,523 doses (279,847), Morris 570,815 doses (269,396), Passaic 439,753 doses (203,885), Sussex 132,982 doses (63,448), and Warren 85,980 doses (40,908). 

Daily Data

As of June 2, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 888,074 with 237 total new PCR cases reported. There were 53 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 128,689. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,016,763. 

As for those that have passed, the state reported 20 new deaths, bringing that total to 23,569. The state listed probable deaths at 2,678, bringing the overall total to 26,247. State officials noted two deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.  

For North Jersey counties on June 2, Bergen had a total of 22 new confirmed cases and four new probable cases, Essex 38 new cases and one new probable case, Hudson 10 new cases and one new probable case, Morris 10 new cases and one new probable case, Passaic 26 new cases and four new probable cases, Sussex four new cases and no new probable case, and Warren three new cases and one new probable case.

There are a total of 4,295 coronavirus variants being reported in the Garden State. State officials documented 3,968 cases of the U.K. variant (B.1.1.7), 160 cases of the California variants (B.1.429 and B.1.427), 156 cases of the Brazilian (P.1) variant, and 11 cases of the South African (B.1.351) variant. 

Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,697, followed by Bergen at 2,569, Hudson with 2,072, Passaic at 1,725, Morris at 974, Sussex at 236, and Warren County at 211.

In regards to probable deaths reported June 2, Bergen has 298, Essex has 300, Morris has 259, Hudson has 215, Passaic has 198, Sussex has 68 and Warren has 26.

State Testing 

As for the rate of transmission reported June 2, it was unchanged at 0.74 from the day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested as of May 29, was 2.2%; by region, the rate was 1.8% in the North, 2.5% in the Central region and 2.4% in the South. 

Officials reported 530 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 273 in the North, 113 in the Central and 132 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 120 are in intensive care units and 70 on ventilators. A total of 47 patients were discharged, while 41 were admitted.

Officials have continually cited transmission rate, hospitalizations, intensive care units, ventilators and positivity rate as health data they rely on to track how the coronavirus is being contained in New Jersey, guiding them in determining when restrictions have to be tightened or lifted.

Bergen Tops County Count

Bergen has the most confirmed cumulative cases in the state with 89,704, followed by Middlesex at 84,715, Essex at 84,609, Hudson at 78,694, Monmouth at 67,412, Ocean at 65,594, Passaic at 65,533, Union at 60,340, Camden at 48,937, Morris at 41,832, Burlington at 38,215, Mercer at 31,589, Gloucester at 26,509, Atlantic at 24,900, Somerset at 24,272, Cumberland at 14,843, Sussex at 11,677, Warren at 8,938, Hunterdon at 8,887, Salem at 5,542, and Cape May at 4,608.  

In regards to probable cases, Bergen had the most at 14,583, followed by Union at 11,008, Ocean at 10,182, Essex at 9,456, Hudson at 9,211, Morris at 8,261, Monmouth at 8,073, Middlesex at 7,466, Passaic at 7,340, Camden at 6,667, Atlantic at 6,630, Burlington at 5,944, Somerset at 5,760, Cape May at 4,576, Gloucester at 4,007, Mercer at 2,401, Sussex at 2,310, Cumberland at 2,253, Warren at 1,029, Hunterdon at 895, and Salem 539.

Another 724 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.

In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 281 outbreaks involving 1,263 cases, accounting for 18 additional outbreaks and 106 cases from the previous weekly update on May 17. 

For North Jersey, Bergen County has 53 confirmed outbreaks with 202 cases, Sussex has 18 confirmed outbreaks with 78 cases, Passaic County has 16 confirmed outbreaks with 57 cases, Warren has 15 confirmed outbreaks with 36 cases, Morris County has five confirmed outbreaks with 34 cases, Hudson County has five confirmed outbreaks with 23 cases, and Essex County with one confirmed outbreak with 92 cases.

Long-term Care Facilities

Health officials noted 117 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 2,764 of the cases, broken down between 1,149 residents and 1,615 staff. 

Cumulatively, 1,470 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 32,886 residents and 22,271 staff, for a total of 55,157. 

The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,055 on June 2. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,890 residents deaths and 144 staff deaths.

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