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Survey: Maui folks are less likely to want COVID vaccine

Molokai, Lanai on par with rest of state

Maui residents were less likely than other areas of the state to want to get the COVID-19 vaccine, according to a newly released survey of nearly 4,000 Hawaii residents. Molokai had fewer respondents but was roughly on par with the rest of the state. In Kaunakakai, 19 people surveyed had an average score of 5.5 on a scale of 0 to 10 (0 meaning they would definitely not take the vaccine, 10 meaning they definitely would). The 84 residents surveyed on Lanai had an average score of 6.4 in terms of wanting to get the vaccine. Graphic courtesy state Department of Health and Olomana Loomis ISC

Maui residents were less likely to want the COVID-19 vaccine than in other areas of the state in a new survey of nearly 4,000 people across Hawaii.

Residents were asked on a scale of 0 to 10 how likely they would be to take the vaccine (with 0 meaning they definitely would not take it and 10 meaning they definitely would) if it were available today.

About 50 percent of the 3,846 people surveyed said they were likely to take the vaccine; another 25.5 percent were undecided and 24.4 percent were least likely to get vaccinated. More than 70 percent indicated that they understand the need to prioritize available vaccines first to those who are most at risk.

Honolulu-based Olomana Loomis ISC and New York-based Pathfinder conducted the study from Nov. 30 to Dec. 14 before the vaccine became available in Hawaii. The state Department of Health released the results Wednesday.

“The results of this survey confirm what the Department of Health and our partners are hearing on the ground — that there is interest in Hawaii for the COVID-19 vaccination,” Health Director Dr. Libby Char said. “As we continue expanding vaccinations to more communities, it’s reasonable to expect that many of those who are undecided will choose to be vaccinated as they see more of their friends, neighbors and fellow Hawaii residents receive their doses.”

Interest, however, was not as widespread on Maui, which had a lower overall mean score than other islands in terms of desire to get the vaccine.

The area least likely to want the vaccine was Makawao, where 61 people had a mean score of 4.9 on the 0-10 scale. Hana had the second-lowest score at 5, but only three people were surveyed there. Haiku was third with a mean score of 5.2 among 33 residents surveyed.

Kihei (132 residents, 6.3), Wailuku (114 residents, 6.4) and Kula (49 residents, 6.4) had similar responses. Pukalani, where only three residents were surveyed, had the highest likelihood of wanting the vaccine with a score of 6.7.

Lanai and Molokai, meanwhile, reflected the average for the rest of the state. On Lanai, 84 residents in Lanai City responded with a mean score of 6.4. On Molokai, 19 residents in Kaunakakai averaged a score of 5.5, while three people in Maunaloa averaged a score of 6.7 and one person in Hoolehua responded with a 9.

On Kauai, residents generally showed high levels of wanting to get the vaccine. On Hawaii island, residents near Hilo appeared more likely to vaccinate than those near Kailua-Kona. On Oahu, the likelihood of a resident taking the vaccine increased the closer the respondent was to Honolulu.

Statewide, demographic trends that changed the likelihood of getting vaccinated included age, gender, income, education and racial background.

Groups more likely to get vaccinated included men, residents who are 65 and older, health care or education professionals and people with higher education and higher incomes. Those of Caucasian, Korean, Japanese and Chinese ancestry were also more likely to receive the vaccine, according to the survey.

Respondents who said they were less likely to be vaccinated included women, residents 18 to 34, those with education up to associate degrees and those who earned lower income. African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Hawaiians, Samoans and other Pacific Islanders also were less likely to receive the vaccine, according to the survey.

People who said they were undecided and needed more information tended to be 45 and younger, especially those in the 18-24 age range, and were more likely to be an ethnicity other than Caucasian or Hispanic. They were also likely to have attained an associate’s degree at most and likely to have less than $45,000 in annual household income.

Across the state, communities closer to urban areas were more likely to support the vaccination program.

The 50 percent of people who said they would take the vaccine was slightly more than the 44 percent of 616 people surveyed by the University of Hawaii’s Public Policy Center in November.

As the federal government approved the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for emergency use in the U.S., the Department of Health hosted several virtual town halls in December to educate health care providers on the vaccine. The department said Wednesday that “an overwhelming majority of health care workers have turned out to receive their vaccination doses.”

Kaiser Permanente Hawaii, the Queen’s Health Systems and Hawaii Pacific Health have reported a strong interest in the vaccination since it was available, averaging nearly three-fourths of their workforce, according to a DOH news release.

* Colleen Uechi can be reached at cuechi@mauinews.com.

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