Purdue Pete and Pistol Pete — The COVID-19 Vaccine Edition: Vaccine Intentions by Purdue and OSU Territories vs. Rest of the U.S.
April 5, 2021 | Articles
Authors: Dr. Nicole Olynk Widmar, Associate Head and Professor, Purdue University Department of Agricultural Economics
Dr. Courtney Bir, Department of Agricultural Economics, Oklahoma State University
In the summer of 2020, we reported on the mask wearing beliefs and intentions of residents of two regions, namely Purdue University and the states surrounding Indiana and Oklahoma State University and the states surrounding Oklahoma, compared to the rest of the U.S. Six months later in January 2021, we collected new data on personal behaviors associated with COVID-19 spread and personal/societal risk factors.
The sample collected was split out according to Indiana and surrounding states versus all other states (labeled non-Indiana and surrounding states), and Oklahoma and surrounding states versus all other states (labeled non-Oklahoma and surrounding states). Figure 1 displays the states designated as Indiana and surrounding states and as Oklahoma and surrounding states.
Demographics for the four subsamples of interest are displayed in Table 1. Overall, the sample of respondents represented the population reasonably well. In addition, there were no statistically significant differences in the proportions of respondents who responded from inside versus outside Indiana and the surrounding states. There were only two statistically significant differences in proportions of respondents from inside versus outside Oklahoma and the surrounding states, namely the 35-44 age bracket and $75,000-99,000 annual household income bracket.
This far into the pandemic the impacts are far and wide, with all of us having experienced a variety of impacts on our daily life in addition to witnessing the struggles of those around us. Table 2 outlines the mean level of impact for a variety of statements, ranging from ability to buy paper goods or perishable products, to the ability to execute travel plans, to having taken on caretaking responsibilities or experiencing illness or death in the family. Overall, the highest mean level of impact was reported for ability to execute travel in all four subsamples.
As we previously discussed, the vaccine is what most hopes are pinned on for a rapid societal recovery, yet personal behaviors like social distancing and masking still have the potential to shape the movement of this pandemic and (hopefully) impending recovery. Evaluation of the likelihood to participate in personal behaviors by region (Table 3) confirms that masking remains the most likely personal behavior in all four subsamples of U.S. respondents. Similarly, respondents are least likely to indicate that they will reduce around town errands and interactions, regardless of their region.
Finally, vaccine intent has been a point of much public focus — and the focus of discussion here on Consumer Corner. At the time of data collection in January 2021, the availability of a vaccine was still very limited in most areas of the U.S. Yet, a patchwork of availability existed (and still does) with some states and regions experiencing much more availability than others and with highly variable requirements/rollout plans being exercised. Respondents were asked about their vaccination status, ranging from having been fully vaccinated to not intending to be vaccinated, even once it becomes available to them. Figure 2 displays vaccination intentions by U.S. adults in the four regions of the U.S. defined. In total, 19% of respondents in Oklahoma and surrounding states do not plan to get vaccinated, whereas 24-25% of respondents said the same in the other three regions of interest.
Conclusions & Implications
Overall, it seems people are not as willing to reduce interactions or travel as they are to wear masks. Vaccination intentions are concerning considering the 19-25% of respondents within each of the studied regions who do not intend to be vaccinated. Likely, given the timing of data collection, those who report having been vaccinated was more a reflection of vaccine availability in their state than anything else measurable. But in the coming months as vaccines are available to larger segments (hopefully all!) of the U.S. population, individuals will have the opportunity to take their stated intentions and make them reality. Given the interest in a ‘return to normal’ widely expressed these days, stopping societal spread of COVID-19 is imperative. Personal behaviors, including practices such as mask wearing and social distancing, alongside vaccination of eligible adults, can help bring the pandemic-era to an end. Understanding the likelihood of COVID-19 preventative behaviors to be practiced by individuals may inform public policy making designed to keep residents safer while assisting in the development of educational campaigns to inform the general public about how to facilitate that ‘return to normal we all seek.