VCU poll: Disconnect between public readiness, rollout of COVID-19 vaccine

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Seventy-one percent of Virginians are somewhat or very likely to get a COVID-19 vaccine, according to a new poll conducted by VCU.

So, what’s the holdup?

It’s not us. In fact, 13 percent more of us want to get the vaccine when it’s offered since the last polling conducted by the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at VCU back in September, suggesting that the public is, by and large, buying in.

And yet: the Northam administration is still falling short, well short, of its honestly overly modest goals in terms of getting the vaccines out to people.

Today’s update to the Virginia Department of Health COVID-19 vaccine dashboard has us at 242,530 vaccine doses having been administered to date.

Gov. Ralph Northam, last week, set out a low bar goal of 25,000 new vaccinations per day, which, all due respect, would fall well short of getting the job done – given that at that rate, it would take 688 days at 25,000 vaccine doses a day to get the state’s 8.6 million residents both doses of the vaccine.

OK, that said, the VDH dashboard shows us that we still haven’t had a single day of even 20,000 vaccinations.

That’s frustrating, and then there’s this to add to the frustration – VDH has shipped 943,400 doses to hospitals statewide, according to the data dashboard.

We’ve only used 25.7 percent of them.

And now we have a poll telling us that 71 percent of us will take them when offered.

“There is a clear disconnect between what the people want relative to vaccination administration and the vaccine implementation plan provided by Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration to date,” said Doug Wilder, a former governor, and obvious namesake of the government and public affairs program at VCU.

There’s more from the poll – 64 percent support a federal-level mask mandate, which wouldn’t be worth whatever paper they’d print it on, considering the realities of our federal system, and wouldn’t have that much of an impact, in the context of, how many people do you run into in public places on a daily basis not wearing a mask?

Fifty-four percent say they think it’s safe for kids to go back to school, a 12 percent increase from September.

The key concerns of those polled include employment, healthcare and education.

“We see the importance of addressing the effects of COVID relative to improved health care needs in areas that have been previously neglected such as education, health and employment,” Wilder said.

You can see the poll results for yourself here.

We didn’t want to bury the key takeaway: we have vaccines sitting in hospitals not being used, and most of us can’t wait to get them so we can get on with our lives.

The obstacle seems to be the Northam administration not being able to figure out how to connect a and b.

Story by Chris Graham


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