1 in 4 Texans is unwilling or unlikely to get the COVID-19 vaccine, poll finds

By Marin Wolf

DALLAS — Nearly one out of four Texans is unwilling or unlikely to get the COVID-19 vaccine, according to a new poll from The Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas at Tyler.

And among parents, more than one-third are unwilling or unlikely to have their children vaccinated, according to the poll.

While a majority of Texans have received the vaccine, parents seem to be more cautious about vaccinating their children against the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began recommending Pfizer’s child-sized COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 in early November.

Of the 1,106 registered voters polled by The News and UT-Tyler Nov. 9-16, 18% said they would not take the COVID-19 vaccine and 5% said they were unlikely to take the vaccine. When the 253 parents with children ages 5 to 18 were asked if their children would receive the vaccine, 28% said they would not and 9% said they would “probably not” vaccinate their children.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.

The federal government plans to require employees of companies with 100 or more workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or tested weekly. In the poll, opinions on the proposed mandate were split fairly evenly, with 48% of respondents saying they support the mandate and 42% saying they oppose it. The remaining 10% said they were unsure.

Respondents were also split on Gov. Greg Abbott’s ban on mask mandates, with 48% saying they support the ban, 45% saying they oppose it and 7% saying they were unsure.

Isidro Galindo, a 63-year-old retired auditor living in Dallas County, said the conflicting information and opinions on mask mandates was frustrating. “You get directions from the governor and then from the CDC, and it would be nice if they would get in agreement on the mandates,” he said.

In addition to the split over mask and vaccine mandates, the poll reflected a disagreement among parents deciding whether to vaccinate their kids.

Heather Zana, a 49-year-old attorney living in Williamson County, said she would not be vaccinating her two children, who are in high school, because there isn’t enough research yet on the vaccine.

“There’d have to be significantly more research on that, and the information would have to come out truthfully about it,” she said.

Zana, who is also not vaccinated, said she thinks the vaccine was pushed through federal regulatory measures too quickly.

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for both adults and children, the Moderna vaccine and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine were given emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration. The Pfizer vaccine has since been granted full FDA approval.

About 27% of parents polled said their child had already been vaccinated, while 21% said their child would definitely receive the vaccine and 15% would probably receive the vaccine.

Some parents have celebrated the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine for their kids. Laura Howe, a mom of twin 11-year-olds in Coppell, said in a recent interview with The News that she grabbed the first appointments she could find.

“I remember when I got my first vaccine, it was a really emotional moment for me, and I even cried because it just opened up possibilities that weren’t there before,” said Howe, who did not participate in the poll. “(The twins) just didn’t have that emotional security and physical security.”

Parents who responded to the poll were asked what source of information was most important when considering whether to vaccinate their children. In total, 56% of parents said they looked to medical experts like the CDC, the FDA or their pediatrician when making that decision, said UT-Tyler political scientist Mark Owens, the poll’s director.

Meanwhile, 17% of the parents cited “my own research” as the most important source of information in making the decision. Respondents who chose “my own research” were 10 times more likely to be Republican than Democrat.

Zana, who identifies as a Republican, cited “my own research” as the most important source of information. She said she looks at local, national and international news sources when making her decisions. “A pediatrician, of course, plays a role, as well,” she said.

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About the poll

The Dallas Morning News/UT-Tyler Poll is a statewide random sample of 1,106 registered voters conducted between November 9-16. The mixed-mode sample includes 244 registered voters surveyed over the phone by the University of Texas at Tyler with support from ReconMR and 866 registered voters randomly selected from Dynata’s panel of online respondents. The margin of error for a sample of 1,106 registered voters in Texas is +/- 2.9 percentage points, and the more conservative margin of sampling error that includes design effects from this poll is +/- 3.2 percentage points for a 95% confidence interval.

The online and phone surveys were conducted in English and Spanish. Using information from the 2020 Current Population Survey and Office of the Texas Secretary of State. The sample’s gender, age, race/ethnicity, education, metropolitan density and vote choice were matched to the population of registered voters in Texas.

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