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Mount Sinai South Nassau "Truth in Medicine" Poll: More than 50% of Metro Area Residents Polled Do Not Plan to Get COVID-19 Vaccine

66% who won’t get vaccine expressed concern that process is rushed, School reopening gets high marks, Job losses highest among minorities 65

Posted: Oct. 27, 2020
Mount Sinai South Nassau "Truth in Medicine" Poll: More than 50% of Metro Area Residents Polled Do Not Plan to Get COVID-19 Vaccine

Nine months into a worldwide pandemic, less than half of metro area residents plan to get a COVID vaccine when it becomes available, according to the latest Mount Sinai South Nassau public health poll, sponsored by Bethpage. The poll’s findings underscore concerns about the vaccine’s development and lack of trust in the FDA’s regulatory process to ensure its safety and effectiveness.

On a positive note, most area residents believe the reopening of local schools has gone well, the poll showed. Forty-one percent of those polled have school age children and about one-half of these respondents said their child returned to school at least part-time. More than 90% of these parents gave schools high marks for successfully reopening. And mask wearing in public has gained widespread acceptance, according to the poll.

Another key finding of the poll: respondents reported high job loss due to COVID among minorities in our area as compared to whites. And only half of those over 65 who were employed before COVID are still working at the same job.

Only 46 percent of respondents to the poll said they would get the COVID vaccine. Among those who said they would not get it, two-thirds said they believe the vaccine is being rushed and they question its safety. Only a slim majority, 54% of 600 metro area residents polled, trust the FDA to impartially determine that a COVID vaccine is safe and effective to release.

“We clearly have our work cut out for us in terms of educating the public on the safety of a COVID vaccine, assuming one is fully developed, tested demonstrated to be safe and efficacious, and approved by the FDA,” said Aaron E. Glatt, MD, Chair of the Department of Medicine at Mount Sinai South Nassau and a national expert on infectious diseases. “The poll results show that there is significant concern about the approval process. It will be up to us in public health and in the government to make the case for a COVID vaccine once it becomes available. I have faith in the approval process being conducted by the FDA and that all the data will be analyzed by independent professionals. These professionals will be guided by the science and nothing else.”

The public’s vapid desire to vaccinate for COVID-19, as well as the flu, comes at a time when their trust in government agencies is at a low point. Just 32% of the poll’s respondents said they trust the CDC “a lot” while 44% said they have “some” trust.

Overall, the public has widespread acceptance of mask wearing and maintaining social distance to protect against and prevent the spread of COVID-19. An impressive 92% of poll respondents said that they either wear a mask all the time when outside the home or when they can’t social distance.

According to poll results those most likely to wear masks only when required are those who would not get a COVID-19 or flu vaccine and men under 50. Meanwhile, individuals most likely to wear a mask all the time include white respondents, respondents without kids in the household, those who would not get a COVID-19 vaccine and women age 50 and older.

“If together we are going to continue our rigorous recovery from the overwhelming disruption caused by the pandemic and ensure that we don’t experience significant setbacks from a second wave as well as the flu season, we must remain vigilant and wear masks in public and practice social distancing,” said Adhi Sharma, MD, Mount Sinai South Nassau’s Executive Vice President for Clinical and Professional Affairs and Chief Medical Officer.

This is Mount Sinai South Nassau’s third Truth in Medicine poll of 2020, sponsored by Bethpage, on the region’s response to coronavirus. The second poll, conducted May 11-14, found seventy-one percent of respondents with children under the age of 18 said they would send their children back to school in the fall despite the pandemic, although 52% would do so only with appropriate social distancing and sanitizing practices in place.

Approximately a month into the school year, parents/guardians with a child back in school responding to the poll say the return has been rather successful. On a scale of 1-10, where 1 means not successful at all and 10 means very successful, the mean score is 6.82 and a scant 7% of respondents offer a score of 1-4.

Parents/guardians are a bit less likely to attest that their children’s return to school has been safe. Using a similar scale, where 1 means extremely unsafe and 10 means extremely safe, the mean score is 6.35 and 12% offer a score of 1-4. About one-half of parents/guardians report that at least one of their children has returned to school at least part time with NYC households more likely to have a student back in school than Long Island households. White and other race respondents are more likely to have a child who has returned to the classroom than or Hispanic respondents.

The Truth in Medicine poll also found that work life is still in recovery from the tumult caused by the pandemic. While three-quarters of area adults who were employed prior to COVID-19 are currently employed at the same job, 11% are at a different job and 14% remain unemployed. Of those who are at a different job or unemployed, a substantial 82% of them experienced a job change/loss due to COVID-19. Additionally, New York residents are more likely to have experienced a job change or lost their job than Long Island residents.

Only 18% of white respondents have changed or lost jobs since COVID-19, compared to 31% of black respondents, 31% of Hispanic respondents, and 32% of other race respondents.  Almost one in four (23%) of black respondents who were employed prior to COVID-19 are now unemployed. Meanwhile, only one-half of respondents age 65-plus who were employed prior to COVID-19 are still working at the same job.

The Mount Sinai South Nassau Truth in Medicine Poll, sponsored by Bethpage Federal Credit Union, is a survey of Long Island and New York City adult residents that aims to gather data about attitudes on key public health topics and help spur education to improve public health. The poll was conducted October 4 - 8 via both landlines and cell phones with 600 residents in New York City and on Long Island. Poll findings are subject to a sampling error of plus or minus 3.9 percent.

“At Bethpage, we understand that personal attention to health and wellness is essential to the quality of life of our members and the communities served by our local branches,” said Linda Armyn, Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Bethpage Federal Credit Union. “We believe that this Truth in Medicine Poll supplies the public with insight and information that will empower it to make choices that will facilitate a safe, healthy and robust re-opening of the region for business, entertainment, dining and outdoor activities.”

The Truth in Medicine Poll was conducted as part of the hospital’s mission of improving education around critical public health issues. The poll was conducted by a nationally recognized, independent polling firm, LJR Custom Strategies, with offices in Washington and New Orleans. LJR has conducted more than 2,000 studies for a broad spectrum of health care, business, education, cultural, and political clients in almost every state in the country and around the world.

Mount Sinai South Nassau began conducting the public health poll in January 2017. This is Mount Sinai South Nassau’s third public health poll of 2020. Previous polls have focused on holiday stress, HPV vaccine, legalization of recreational marijuana, vaccines and supplements, antibiotic use and misuse, screen time, and others.

The Long Island flagship hospital of the Mount Sinai Health System, Mount Sinai South Nassau is designated a Magnet® hospital by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) for outstanding nursing care. Mount Sinai South Nassau is one of the region’s largest hospitals, with 455 beds, more than 900 physicians and 3,500 employees. Located in Oceanside, NY, the hospital is an acute-care, not-for-profit teaching hospital that provides state-of-the-art care in cardiac, oncologic, orthopedic, bariatric, pain management, mental health and emergency services and operates the only Trauma Center on the South Shore of Nassau County, along with Long Island’s only free-standing Emergency Department in Long Beach.

In addition to its extensive outpatient specialty centers, Mount Sinai South Nassau provides emergency and elective angioplasty, and offers Novalis Tx™ and Gamma Knife® radiosurgery technologies. Mount Sinai South Nassau operates the only Trauma Center on the South Shore of Nassau County verified by the American College of Surgeons as well as Long Island’s only free-standing, 9-1-1 receiving Emergency Department in Long Beach. Mount Sinai South Nassau also is a designated Stroke Center by the New York State Department of Health and Comprehensive Community Cancer Center by the American College of Surgeons; is an accredited center of the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Association and Quality Improvement Program; and an Infectious Diseases Society of America Antimicrobial Stewardship Center of Excellence.  For more information, go to www.mountsinai.org/southnassau.