A new poll finds public anxiety about getting COVID has dropped dramatically, but a significant number of New Jerseyans are still worried about the virus spiking back up at some point in the future.

Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said the just-completed survey finds as more and more people get vaccinated, concern about contracting COVID has plummeted.

“It was 60% were worried about a family member getting ill back in the beginning of the year, that’s now down to 23%, the lowest that it’s been since COVID hit over a year ago,” he said.

Nevertheless, he noted “57% are worried that there could be another surge if not enough people get vaccinated.”

He said “they’re just worried that we might not hit that target of herd immunity, particularly with 21% of Americans saying they will not get this vaccine if they can avoid it.”

Murray said that 21% is not likely to change their minds.

“It’s less about concerns about the efficacy of the vaccine or the safety of the vaccine,” he said. “It seems to be most of those people are just tied into this idea that it’s an issue of freedom, it’s an issue of identity.

The poll finds 69% of people opposed to the idea of getting vaccinated are Republicans, while 13% are Democrats.

The poll also finds even though New Jersey has dropped almost all mask mandates “we find that 41% of those who have been vaccinated say they’re still wearing a mask even though the CDC says they can take them off.”

Murray said the survey also finds 25% of those who have not gotten vaccinated are still masking up, which means “the vaccinated folks are the ones who are worried about another surge, who are more worried about the illness spreading.”

He noted the decline in being very concerned about a serious COVID-related illness in one’s family is fairly consistent across demographic groups.

The poll finds there has been a slightly larger drop since January among women (from 65% to 24%) than among men (from 54% to 21%), and among those 65 years and older (from 67% to 23%) than among those under 65 years old (from 58% to 22%).

He noted concerns among white Americans (from 55% in January to 17% now) and people of color (from 70% to 32%) have dropped by the same amount, but the latter group remains relatively more worried about someone in their family falling ill from the virus.

The survey also finds among the 1 in 10 Americans who are unvaccinated but remain open to getting the shot, 52% report maintaining their personal mask protocol, 27% are masking less often, 12% are not wearing it at all, and 9% were rarely masked prior to the new guidance.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from June 9 to 14, 2021 with 810 adults in the United States. The question results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.

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