States are lifting restrictions in response to rising Covid-19 vaccination rates and many Americans are preparing for summer travel, but a new Morning Consult poll found that people who are unvaccinated are far more likely to be comfortable engaging in normal activities than their vaccinated peers, suggesting community transmission will likely continue to be an issue while vaccine hesitancy remains high.
More unvaccinated Americans than vaccinated Americans said they would be comfortable doing a wide range of public activities asked about in the poll, which was conducted May 6-8 among 879 vaccinated respondents and 1,321 unvaccinated ones.
For travel, 37% of unvaccinated respondents would be comfortable going on a cruise versus 17% of vaccinated ones, while 47% of the unvaccinated would go to an amusement park versus 30% vaccinated, 40% feel comfortable flying compared to 31% of the vaccinated and 32% are comfortable traveling abroad versus 15% of the vaccinated.
Unvaccinated Americans are also more likely to feel comfortable going to the gym (43% unvaccinated versus 27% vaccinated), socializing in public places (54% versus 45%), dine at a restaurant (63% versus 56%) and going to the movies (46% versus 33%).
As states lift restrictions on large gatherings and events, the unvaccinated are also more comfortable heading to those, including attending a concert (42% unvaccinated comfortable versus 23% vaccinated), work conference (43% versus 25%), sporting event (42% versus 29%), party (46% versus 34%) and religious gathering (45% versus 35%).
Morning Consult’s polling is in line with past polling suggesting looser adherence to Covid-19 guidance among those who haven’t gotten the vaccine or don’t want to, with a recent Harris poll finding the unvaccinated were three times more likely to be “lax” about mask wearing and social distancing and twice as likely to gather in crowds and travel.
70%. That’s the percentage of unvaccinated respondents who said Covid-19 poses a “severe” or “moderate” health risk in the U.S., as compared with 88% of those who have been vaccinated.
“There is a concern among vaccinated people that a lot of folks who are unvaccinated will be attending these events because they view them as very low risk or they’re not concerned about their own personal risk,” public health policy expert Roopa Kalyanaraman Marcello, a research director at NYC Health + Hospitals, told Morning Consult.
The Seychelles, UAE, Chile and Bahrain are now facing dangerous Covid-19 surges despite having among the highest vaccination rates in the world, which has been attributed to their having relaxed restrictions too soon, as well as the efficacy of the Sinopharm vaccine developed in China and mixed messaging from governments.
In the U.S., governors from both parties have been increasingly reopening their states as a higher share of residents become fully vaccinated, dropping nearly all Covid-19 limits like capacity restrictions and, in some cases, mask mandates. Vaccination rates in the U.S. are dropping after an initial surge, however, and vaccine hesitancy poses a large issue, with recent polling showing a quarter of Americans are still unwilling to get the shot. The trend toward reopening has spurred a significant interest in summer travel, with United Airlines saying that summer 2021 bookings are far outpacing bookings for summer 2020 and Kayak reporting a 115% increase in car rental searches over the past week as compared with the same week in 2019. Public health officials have projected that Covid-19 transmission will significantly decline as more people become vaccinated—particularly if the U.S. hits President Joe Biden’s goal of 70% of Americans receiving a shot by July 4—but Dr. Anthony Fauci has cautioned against “declar[ing] victory prematurely” by fully dropping restrictions while Covid-19 transmission remains a risk.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
As reopening continues, businesses and governments will likely have to contend more with whether people should provide proof of vaccination to combat the risk of unvaccinated people spreading Covid-19. Sports stadiums and venues like the Hollywood Bowl have started laying out seating policies that separate vaccinated from unvaccinated people, for instance, and the Daily Beast reports Broadway could also consider mandating vaccinations as shows reopen in the fall. Vaccine passports remain highly controversial and have already been banned in multiple GOP-led states, however, and the possibility of having to provide proof has already sparked a rise in unvaccinated people obtaining fake vaccine cards.