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AARP Poll: 1 in 3 Older Georgians Would Turn Down Free COVID-19 Vaccine

Doctor's hand holding a covid-19 vaccine vial on Chest x-ray background

En español | Nearly 1 in 3 Georgia voters age 50-plus would refuse a federally approved COVID-19 vaccine if it was offered to them today at no cost, according to an exclusive AARP Georgia poll that suggests older adults in the Peach State are skeptical of getting vaccinated even as government regulators consider approving a first vaccine for public distribution.

The AARP poll also found that older Georgians are more likely to support the Republican candidates in Georgia’s two U.S. Senate runoff races on Jan. 5, though it showed a statistical dead heat for both races among all voters. Incumbent Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are locked in tight races with Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock.

The poll, published on Friday, found that only 56 percent of older Democrats and 55 percent of older Republicans would agree to take a free COVID-19 vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. That’s up from just 41 percent of 50-plus voters who said the same in September. Black voters (41 percent) and women between the ages of 50 and 64 (43 percent) were among the least likely to say they’d get vaccinated, though 81 percent of all 50-plus respondents said they’d trust a recommendation from their doctor about whether to get a vaccine.

The poll’s release comes just a day after an advisory panel at the FDA met to consider issuing emergency use authorization to a vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. The authorization will let the government begin distributing millions of vaccines across the country. Most states are prioritizing health care workers and long-term care residents and staff in their initial wave of vaccines.

The AARP poll also comes just a month before Georgia voters will again cast ballots in the state’s January runoff elections. No U.S. Senate candidate in Georgia garnered a majority of votes on Election Day, forcing the state to hold a runoff election that will effectively decide whether Republicans or Democrats control the U.S. Senate.

Loeffler and Perdue lead by identical margins (53 percent to 42 percent) among voters over the age of 50. However, the Democratic candidates lead among younger voters, and Ossoff and Warnock each carry at least 89 percent of the Black vote in AARP Georgia’s poll.

Only 42 percent of Georgia voters over the age of 50 listed the coronavirus pandemic as an extremely important election issue. More than half (56 percent) named honesty in government as a primary issue, ahead of jobs and the economy (49 percent) and Social Security (45 percent) among the top concerns for Georgia’s older voters.

AARP commissioned the bipartisan polling team of Hart Research Associates and Fabrizio Ward to conduct a poll of Georgia voters who said they are likely to cast a ballot in the state’s runoff elections. The firms interviewed 1,250 Georgia voters over the phone between Nov. 30 and Dec. 4. The poll has a margin of error of 3.2 percent for all voters and a 3.8 percent margin of error among 50-plus voters.

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