As Concerns Grow of New COVID Surge, Bay Area Council Poll Finds Troubling Pockets of Vaccine Hesitancy

As concerns grow about a possible fourth COVID surge and public health officials race to roll out vaccines, the 2021 Bay Area Council Poll finds that a small, yet significant number of respondents harbor skepticism about or outright resistance to getting vaccinated. The results come as the state tomorrow plans to expand vaccine eligibility to residents 50 years and older. The findings highlight the challenge ahead in achieving full vaccination levels, but also suggest approaches for winning over those who remain hesitant.

According to the poll, conducted from March 10-16, of the 57% who said they haven’t been vaccinated, 21% said they definitely or probably won’t get vaccinated. That’s likely to pose a challenge for public health officials working to end the pandemic.

Asked why they will not get the vaccine, 19% of vaccine-hesitant respondents answered that they aren’t worried about COVID, 14% said they are already healthy and 12% fear a vaccine’s negative side effects. Another 12% said they simply don’t trust the vaccine and will rely on their own immune system to address any infection.

“Getting people vaccinated is one of the most important things we can do to stop COVID and fully reopen our state and our economy,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “Understanding the reasons people are hesitant to get vaccinated and addressing their concerns will be critical to ensuring we put COVID behind us and avoid any flare ups.”

Read the full topline results>>

Read the findings with charts and graphs>>

The Bay Area Council Poll found the highest level of vaccine hesitancy among registered Republicans, with 31% wavering on whether to get the shot. Just 7% of Democrats expressed any reluctance about taking the vaccine.

Some other groups that expressed doubts about getting vaccinated included those with less than a college degree (22%), parents (22%) and women ages 18 to 49 years old (21%). Among people that indicated a racial or ethnic affiliation, the most reluctant to get vaccinated were Latinx (18%). Overall, 40% of Bay Area residents said they have received at least one shot of vaccine, with 17% saying they’ve gotten one shot and 23% saying they’ve received all doses.

Geographically, the poll found San Francisco leading the way with 44% of respondents saying they’ve been vaccinated, and indicating the lowest level of vaccine hesitancy (7%) in the Bay Area. Santa Clara County is lagging the region overall in vaccinations, according to the poll, with 33% of respondents saying they’ve been jabbed. The poll found 44% of respondents in the North Bay, including Marin, Sonoma and Napa, have been vaccinated but also showed the highest level of vaccine resistance (23%) among these counties.

Addressing hesitancy to getting the vaccine will likely take a few messengers. The poll found that overall, respondents put the most trust in their own doctor or healthcare provider for reliable vaccine information (49% trust them a great deal). President Biden and the Centers for Disease Control also are viewed as reliable sources. State government, however, not so much. The poll found that just 21% of respondents put a great deal of trust in state officials to provide reliable information.

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About the Bay Area Council

The Bay Area Council is a business-sponsored, public-policy advocacy organization for the nine-county Bay Area. The Council proactively advocates for a strong economy, a vital business environment, and a better quality of life for everyone who lives here. Founded in 1945, the Bay Area Council is widely respected by elected officials, policy makers and other civic leaders as the voice of Bay Area business. Today, more than 300 of the largest employers in the region support the Bay Area Council and offer their CEO or top executive as a member. Our members employ more than 4.43 million workers and have revenues of $1.94 trillion, worldwide. Learn more at

This study was completed by EMC Research on behalf of the Bay Area Council among a random sample of registered voters who responded to an email or text invitation to complete the survey. Demographics including age, gender, and ethnicity are representative of registered voters in the 9-County Bay Area. The survey was conducted March 10 – 16, 2021, and had 1,000 respondents, which carries a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. Previous polls were conducted in 2014, 2015, 2016 (residents of the Bay Area), 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 (registered voters).

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