On Tuesday, The Free Lance-Star profiled people in rural America, and found a lot of resistance to taking the COVID-19 vaccine — including among supporters of former President Donald Trump.
"While demand for vaccinations still far outstrips the available supply in most parts of the country, there are already signs in some places of slowing registration," reported Jill Colvin. "And the impact is expected to grow when supply begins to surpass demand by late April or early May, said Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health."
One person reluctant to take the vaccine is Laura Biggs, a recovered COVID patient and Trump supporter who lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. "The way I feel about it is: I don't need the vaccine at this point," she said. "And I'm not going to get the vaccine until it is well established." She added that, "Family members who lean left have not left home for a year ... I just think that there was a hysteria about it."
Ron Holloway, 75, who lives just outside Branson, Missouri, agreed. "This whole thing is blown way out of proportion and a bunch of nonsense. We still haven't lost 1 percent of our population. It is just ridiculous," he said, adding, "I just don't believe we need vaccinations. I don't think it is the way God intended for us to be. The majority of my friends and the people that I associated with, the people that we go to church with, we don't wear masks, we don't get the shots."
For years, anti-vaccine conspiracy theories were a fairly bipartisan phenomenon — childhood vaccination hesitancy has been famously common in affluent, liberal suburbs. But the contrast between Trump and President Joe Biden's attitudes on COVID-19 appears to have reshaped the issue along partisan lines, at least for this specific vaccination drive.
Republicans are now one of the most vaccine-hostile demographics in the United States; 49 percent of Republican men said they would not get the vaccine in a recent poll. Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the nation's top pandemic advisers under both Trump and Biden, has expressed frustration over the trend, saying that the partisan divide "makes absolutely no sense."