Blue state Oregon has some of the highest rates of vaccination for COVID-19 of any state in the union, somewhere north of 70%. The push continues to get as many Oregonians vaccinated as possible, with threats looming of further lockdowns and masking of children at school. Governor Kate Brown (D-Portland) has used the state lottery to create incentives, recently posing with the first million-dollar winner among vaccinated citizens. And yet, it seems her message has failed to connect with Oregonians. According to a new study, Governor Brown is the least trusted figure in Oregon on the subject of vaccines.
The headline in the paper of record in Oregon must have come as a shock to many who assume the state remains reliably blue:
According to The Oregonian:
Gov. Kate Brown should stop urging Oregonians to get vaccinated against COVID-19 because she is the “least trusted” figure for unvaccinated individuals and could be undercutting the state’s efforts to reach herd immunity, according to new survey results released Tuesday.
In recommendations for how the state could further boost vaccinations, researchers at the University of Oregon’s Institute for Policy Research and Engagement were blunt: “less Gov. Brown.”
“Gov. Brown is a polarizing figure for unvaccinated individuals,” wrote Benjamin Clark and Robert Parker, respectively the co-executive director and the director of strategy and technical solutions at the institute. “We would recommend that (the governor) defer being the primary messenger to unvaccinated Oregonians.”
The report contained all sorts of interesting tidbits. Researchers conducted a survey of 686 Oregonians in May and June 2021 to gauge attitudes toward getting vaccinated:
The goal of our findings is to discover ways in which public health officials may be able to increase the vaccination rates across Oregon, resulting in a more sustainable recovery from COVID-19—particularly as the Delta variant begins to threaten many of the gains made through vaccinations globally. (pg. 6)
The researchers wanted to know what is behind vaccine hesitancy, especially among rural Oregonians. They found that those with no party affiliation outpaced Republicans and Democrats in refusing to get the vaccine, and almost 60% of African Americans remain unvaccinated. A majority of every other race listed has taken the vaccine. They also note that those employed in the public sector or in non-profits lead the pack in vaccination rates, while a majority of those self-employed or working in a family business have no plans to get vaccinated.
Among the survey respondents, monetary incentives of various types proved completely ineffective to change people’s minds.
Perhaps the most interesting results came on page 28, in response to the question: “Who do Oregonians Trust for COVID-19 Info?” Even among those vaccinated, 62% have some, little, or no trust in Governor Kate Brown. Among those unvaccinated, that number jumps to 92%.
Survey respondents were given a wide variety of options for individuals and organizations to choose who they trust most for vaccine info. Importantly, none of those choices received a majority saying they have moderate or total trust. This includes President Biden, local news outlets, national news outlets, public broadcasting, and cable news.
Among government agencies, a different pattern emerges. Perhaps predictably, the chart on page 29 shows that among those vaccinated, a majority trust the CDC, Oregon Health Authority, county health departments, and their personal physician. Among those unvaccinated, majorities distrust these outlets.
The researchers conclude with some predictable recommendations, including door-to-door campaigns, countering what they call disinformation, and a $100 cash incentive.
But the clearest message they send: Oregonians simply don’t trust Kate Brown and she undermines her own cause every time she opens her mouth.