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61% of Long Islanders plan to take vaccine, up from 53%: nextLI survey

Two Long Islanders explained to Newsday on Wednesday

Two Long Islanders explained to Newsday on Wednesday why they decided to take the COVID-19 vaccine or not take it.  Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa Loarca, Thomas A. Ferrara

Sixty-one percent of Long Islanders who have not yet been vaccinated say they plan on getting the COVID-19 shot, and many who were hesitant are moving toward obtaining the inoculation, a new nextLI survey shows.

The survey found only 13% of Long Islanders had received the vaccine, as getting an appointment for the two-dose vaccine has been challenging amid a chaotic rollout and scarcity of the drug. A total of 20% said they will not receive the shot, and 18% are not sure, the survey said.

The survey found increasing support for the inoculation compared with a similar survey done in July. That earlier nextLI survey showed 53% of Long Islanders planned to receive the vaccine, 16% said they would not, and 31% were not sure.

The nextLI project is a Newsday initiative funded by a grant from the Rauch Foundation, with a goal of stimulating Islandwide discussion on public policy questions.

Don Levy, lead researcher with the Siena College Research Institute, which performed the most recent survey for nextLI, said the increased level of support showed more people who had been undecided are leaning toward obtaining the vaccine.

"In general, the numbers are indicating the number of people saying they will get the vaccine has ticked up," Levy said of the survey, which included 1,400 Nassau and Suffolk residents 18 years of age and older from Jan. 20 to Feb 1. The survey had a margin of error of 3%, he said.

Among the 38% who said they won't get the shot or are unsure, most said they felt it's still too early for them and that they were concerned the vaccine may have been rushed and could have harmful effects, the survey found.

Manuel Villalobo, 26, of Hempstead, said he plans to hold off getting the vaccine for six months, as he wants to see other people receive it safely.

"We all got concerns," Villalobo said. "I wonder whether the vaccine accelerates the virus or cleans it."

The survey also found significant hesitancy among Blacks, Latinos and people under age 50. The survey found that 65% of whites, 55% of Blacks and 46% of Hispanics would take the vaccine.

Levy said Blacks recall the historical medical abuses against them. Latinos, he added, are also wary of the medical community and also might have language barriers to overcome.

Among those Islanders ages 18 to 49, about half said they do not plan to get the shot or are unsure about it, the survey found. Health officials said herd immunity could require immunizing more than 80% of people.

"It's hard to say what is going to change minds," Levy said. "As more endorsements come from those who people know and trust, and from doctors and religious figures, it would seem that the resistance would lessen."

Herman Gabora, 69, a volunteer firefighter in Wantagh, said he's already received both vaccine injections. He said he was not concerned about any ill effects.

"I would rather err on the side of science over suspicion," Gabora said.

He said he's still abiding by the COVID-19 safety precautions, such as wearing a mask, but he does feel safer.

"I'm no superman," Gabora said. "I feel safer to a degree. But will [the vaccine] be a safeguard for the mutations out there?"

Lynette Murphy, 54, of Patchogue Village, said she will receive the vaccine even though she had COVID-19 in January. She said she worries about how long the antibodies from the illness will last.

Having spent more than two hours online looking for an appointment, the high school social worker said she obtained an appointment for April 7.

"I'm exposed in school to a lot of people," she said. "I want to firmly believe that vaccines are very old, and we would not be exposed to anything unsafe."

nextLI SURVEY RESULTS

  • 61% of Long Islanders who have not received the COVID-19 vaccine said they will get it.
  • 13% said they have already received it.
  • 84% said they have not received it.
  • 20% said they will not receive the vaccine.
  • 18% said they are not sure whether they will receive the vaccine.
  • 65% of whites said they will get the vaccine, compared to 55% of Blacks, 46% of Latinos and 62% of Asians.

SOURCE: Siena College Research Institute, for nextLI

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