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Data analysts Charles Gaba and Liz Hamel discuss the strong correlation between political polarization and vaccination disparities in the U.S.

The COVID-19 vaccine has been available for nearly a year, but a large portion of the population is still hesitant to accept the known science behind these vaccines. As the unvaccinated population perpetuates the creation of new and deadlier variants, two data analysts suggest that misinformation is holding us back from eliminating the coronavirus. 

“Beyond news sources, we’ve also seen declining trust and polarizing trust in official sources of information … so that has been a challenge for getting people on the same page about believing scientific explanations of what’s happening in the pandemic.” –Liz Hamel, Kaiser Family Foundation 


Listen: Misinformation may be prolonging the COVID-19 pandemic.


Guests 

Charles Gaba is an independent health care policy data analyst and founder of ACASignups.net, a website tracking enrollments for the Affordable Care Act. He says after analyzing the vaccination rate of every county in the United States, he found a strong correlation between a region’s vaccination rate and its dominant political demographic. “The one factor which I’ve found the strongest, most striking pattern … has been partisanship, basically how the counties voted in the 2020 presidential election.” He says the abundance of different politically aligned news sources are making it difficult to verify accurate information about the COVID-19 vaccine, “There does seem to be a tremendous amount of misinformation.” 

Liz Hamel is director of public opinion and survey research for Kaiser Family Foundation. She says when examining vaccination rate disparities, “The biggest factor … is really partisanship. We’ve seen Democrats getting vaccinated at a higher rate than Republicans.” As the science behind COVID-19 evolves, Hamel says some people are hesitant to trust the changing recommendations coming from health experts. “Beyond news sources, we’ve also seen declining trust and polarizing trust in official sources of information … so that has been a challenge for getting people on the same page about believing scientific explanations of what’s happening in the pandemic.”

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