States Where People Don’t Trust the Government on COVID-19

COVID-19 vaccine
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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on ChamberOfCommerce.org.

Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, conditions in the U.S. have shown marked signs of improvement.

The emergence of vaccines to protect against COVID-19 in late 2020 helped lay the groundwork for what some are now calling the coronavirus’s endemic stage. An accelerated process of developing, testing, manufacturing, and distributing vaccines has allowed more than 250 million Americans to receive at least one dose since vaccines first became available.

With greater protection, COVID-19’s risk to much of the population has been significantly reduced. For example, during the recent omicron variant wave, vaccinated individuals showed far lower rates of hospitalization and death than their unvaccinated counterparts.

Public health leaders have made efforts to overcome skepticism and resistance to COVID-19 vaccines, but around one-quarter of the total U.S. population still have not received a dose of the vaccine. A large share of hesitation comes from concerns about the vaccine itself: According to survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 51.3% of those who are unvaccinated named concern about possible side effects as a reason, and 45.6% said they don’t trust COVID-19 vaccines.

But the choice of whether to get vaccinated has undeniably taken on political character as well. In the same survey data, 37.4% of unvaccinated individuals named not trusting the government as one of the reasons why. Given the government’s key role in supporting the development and distribution of the vaccines, this group will remain difficult to persuade.

To determine the states whose residents don’t trust the government, researchers at ChamberOfCommerce.org calculated the share of unvaccinated adults who cited distrust in the government as one of the reasons for not receiving or planning to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The data used in this analysis is from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, collected in the first week of February 2022.

Here are the states whose unvaccinated residents do not trust the government.

15. Georgia

Kennesaw, Georgia
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  • Share of unvaccinated adults who cited distrust in govt.: 39.1%
  • Share of unvaccinated adults who likely won’t get vaccinated: 69.9%
  • Share of adults who are unvaccinated: 17.3%
  • Total unvaccinated adults who cited distrust in govt.: 493,454
  • Total unvaccinated adults who likely won’t get vaccinated: 962,148
  • Total adults who are unvaccinated: 1,376,568

14. Tennessee

Knoxville, Tennessee
Kevin Ruck / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of unvaccinated adults who cited distrust in govt.: 39.9%
  • Share of unvaccinated adults who likely won’t get vaccinated: 73.1%
  • Share of adults who are unvaccinated: 21.2%
  • Total unvaccinated adults who cited distrust in govt.: 424,499
  • Total unvaccinated adults who likely won’t get vaccinated: 813,476
  • Total adults who are unvaccinated: 1,112,777

13. North Carolina

Charlotte North Carolina
Kevin Ruck / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of unvaccinated adults who cited distrust in govt.: 40.4%
  • Share of unvaccinated adults who likely won’t get vaccinated: 67.3%
  • Share of adults who are unvaccinated: 15.9%
  • Total unvaccinated adults who cited distrust in govt.: 505,114
  • Total unvaccinated adults who likely won’t get vaccinated: 858,913
  • Total adults who are unvaccinated: 1,277,151

12. Wyoming

Jackson Hole, Wyoming
f11photo / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of unvaccinated adults who cited distrust in govt.: 40.5%
  • Share of unvaccinated adults who likely won’t get vaccinated: 78.9%
  • Share of adults who are unvaccinated: 31.3%
  • Total unvaccinated adults who cited distrust in govt.: 53,646
  • Total unvaccinated adults who likely won’t get vaccinated: 107,306
  • Total adults who are unvaccinated: 136,038

11. Indiana

Indiana
f11photo / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of unvaccinated adults who cited distrust in govt.: 40.9%
  • Share of unvaccinated adults who likely won’t get vaccinated: 74.7%
  • Share of adults who are unvaccinated: 21.3%
  • Total unvaccinated adults who cited distrust in govt.: 417,793
  • Total unvaccinated adults who likely won’t get vaccinated: 796,426
  • Total adults who are unvaccinated: 1,066,495

10. Utah

Jason Finn / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of unvaccinated adults who cited distrust in govt.: 41.3%
  • Share of unvaccinated adults who likely won’t get vaccinated: 84.1%
  • Share of adults who are unvaccinated: 16.2%
  • Total unvaccinated adults who cited distrust in govt.: 151,739
  • Total unvaccinated adults who likely won’t get vaccinated: 314,383
  • Total adults who are unvaccinated: 373,794

9. Iowa

Des Moines, Iowa
Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of unvaccinated adults who cited distrust in govt.: 41.6%
  • Share of unvaccinated adults who likely won’t get vaccinated: 74.2%
  • Share of adults who are unvaccinated: 18.2%
  • Total unvaccinated adults who cited distrust in govt.: 174,974
  • Total unvaccinated adults who likely won’t get vaccinated: 313,090
  • Total adults who are unvaccinated: 421,691

8. Colorado

Colorado School of Mines
Jeff Zehnder / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of unvaccinated adults who cited distrust in govt.: 41.7%
  • Share of unvaccinated adults who likely won’t get vaccinated: 80.8%
  • Share of adults who are unvaccinated: 11.3%
  • Total unvaccinated adults who cited distrust in govt.: 196,091
  • Total unvaccinated adults who likely won’t get vaccinated: 410,331
  • Total adults who are unvaccinated: 507,523

7. Minnesota

Rochester, Minnesota
IMG_191 / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of unvaccinated adults who cited distrust in govt.: 42.4%
  • Share of unvaccinated adults who likely won’t get vaccinated: 81.6%
  • Share of adults who are unvaccinated: 12.3%
  • Total unvaccinated adults who cited distrust in govt.: 211,575
  • Total unvaccinated adults who likely won’t get vaccinated: 421,376
  • Total adults who are unvaccinated: 516,695

6. Delaware

Wilmington, Delaware
Paul Brady Photography / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of unvaccinated adults who cited distrust in govt.: 42.9%
  • Share of unvaccinated adults who likely won’t get vaccinated: 65.9%
  • Share of adults who are unvaccinated: 7.9%
  • Total unvaccinated adults who cited distrust in govt.: 26,073
  • Total unvaccinated adults who likely won’t get vaccinated: 39,685
  • Total adults who are unvaccinated: 60,204

5. Oregon

Eugene, Oregon
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of unvaccinated adults who cited distrust in govt.: 43.1%
  • Share of unvaccinated adults who likely won’t get vaccinated: 74.7%
  • Share of adults who are unvaccinated: 11.9%
  • Total unvaccinated adults who cited distrust in govt.: 158,219
  • Total unvaccinated adults who likely won’t get vaccinated: 293,415
  • Total adults who are unvaccinated: 392,913

4. Maine

Portland, Maine
Jo Ann Snover / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of unvaccinated adults who cited distrust in govt.: 43.3%
  • Share of unvaccinated adults who likely won’t get vaccinated: 70.8%
  • Share of adults who are unvaccinated: 12.5%
  • Total unvaccinated adults who cited distrust in govt.: 54,389
  • Total unvaccinated adults who likely won’t get vaccinated: 94,821
  • Total adults who are unvaccinated: 134,008

3. Kentucky

Louisville, Kentucky
Harold Stiver / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of unvaccinated adults who cited distrust in govt.: 44.2%
  • Share of unvaccinated adults who likely won’t get vaccinated: 77.8%
  • Share of adults who are unvaccinated: 17.9%
  • Total unvaccinated adults who cited distrust in govt.: 253,489
  • Total unvaccinated adults who likely won’t get vaccinated: 462,058
  • Total adults who are unvaccinated: 593,736

2. Montana

Men on horses in mountains
outdoorsman / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of unvaccinated adults who cited distrust in govt.: 51.6%
  • Share of unvaccinated adults who likely won’t get vaccinated: 85.6%
  • Share of adults who are unvaccinated: 21.7%
  • Total unvaccinated adults who cited distrust in govt.: 88,743
  • Total unvaccinated adults who likely won’t get vaccinated: 153,472
  • Total adults who are unvaccinated: 179,274

1. Alabama

Birmingham, Alabama
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
  • Share of unvaccinated adults who cited distrust in govt.: 51.7%
  • Share of unvaccinated adults who likely won’t get vaccinated: 75.3%
  • Share of adults who are unvaccinated: 22.8%
  • Total unvaccinated adults who cited distrust in govt.: 418,404
  • Total unvaccinated adults who likely won’t get vaccinated: 635,795
  • Total adults who are unvaccinated: 844,199

Methodology

Data entry on a laptop
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The data used in this analysis is from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, collected in the first week of February 2022.

To determine the states whose residents don’t trust the government, researchers calculated the share of unvaccinated adults who cited distrust in the government as one of the reasons for not receiving or planning to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. In the event of a tie, the state with the higher share of unvaccinated adults who likely won’t get vaccinated was ranked higher.

Adults deemed as those who likely won’t get vaccinated were a combination of respondents who answered either “will probably not get a vaccine” or “will definitely not get a vaccine.”

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