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vaccination nation

Republicans are stubbornly hesitant to get a COVID-19 vaccine, and a Trump PSA might not help

Right now, demand for COVID-19 vaccines is outstripping supply but that will change in the coming weeks. Then the challenge will be to persuade people hesitant to get the vaccine to roll up their sleeves. And several recent surveys show that while vaccine hesitancy is falling overall in the U.S., "opposition among Republicans remains stubbornly strong," The Associated Press reports.

In a new AP-NORC survey, 42 percent of Republicans say they probably or definitely won't get vaccinated, versus 17 percent of Democrats. A recent NPR/PBS NewsHour Marist poll found that 49 percent of Republican men and 47 percent of Donald Trump supporters said they would opt out if a vaccine was offered to them, versus 6 percent of Democratic men. A CBS News-YouGov survey released Sunday recorded 33 percent of Republicans saying they would not get a shot and another 20 percent undecided.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, told Fox News Sunday "it would make all the difference in the world" if Trump urged his supporters to get vaccinated, and longtime GOP pollster Frank Luntz told The Washington Post last week he didn't "need a focus group to tell me that nothing would have a greater impact than a Donald Trump PSA." He held a focus group of Trump supporters on Saturday, and it turns out Trump's endorsement wouldn't really move the needle.

Luntz's focus group heard pro-vaccine pitches from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and other congressional Republicans, former CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden, and former Gov. Chris Christie (R). The House Republicans made no inroads, and the participants were turned off by the PSA featuring every former president but Trump. Many of them didn't trust Fauci. But Frieden's "five facts" persuaded many of them to swing toward vaccination. "We want to be educated, not indoctrinated," said Adam from New York.

The participants said they were particularly swayed by Frieden's statements about the tens of thousands of people already vaccinated, the two decades of work on coronavirus vaccines — not just a year — and the near-unanimous willingness of doctors to get inoculated. They said their doctor or spouse could also persuade them, but politics was poison. By the end of the session, all 19 participants said they were more willing to get vaccinated.

"These people represent 30 million Americans, and without these people, you're not getting herd immunity," Luntz told the Post. He and other groups are testing differing messaging nationwide.