U-M: Most local leaders in Michigan confident in efficacy, safety of COVID vaccines

Survey finds attitudes highly impacted by partisanship

CVS, Walgreens begin offering extra COVID-19 vaccine dose

ANN ARBOR – The majority of local government officials in Michigan have expressed confidence in the effectiveness and safety of COVID-19 available to the public, according to a new survey by the University of Michigan.

The survey also found that leaders’ attitudes tend to be closely linked to partisanship.

Conducted in the spring of 2021 between April 5 and June 7 by the Ford School of Public Policy’s Center for Local, State and Urban Policy, the survey asked local leaders for their views on the vaccines and the actions their local governments are taking during the pandemic.

According to the findings, 75% of respondents said they were somewhat or very confident in the COVID vaccines while 16% said they are not at all confident. Democrats were more likely to say they were very confident in the vaccines than Republicans at 74% compared to 32%, respectively. Meanwhile, 57% percent of independents said they were very confident in the vaccines.

Men exhibited higher confidence than women at 49% compared to 40%. Sixty-one percent of leaders age 70 or older also had high confidence.

Other topics covered in the survey included the role local governments played in vaccine rollout, vaccination policies for administration employees, as well as their views on the equity of vaccine distribution.

The survey was released on the same day that all Michiganders became eligible for the vaccine.

Project manager of CLOSUP, Debra Horner, said the role local government plays in increasing vaccination rates may become more critical.

“The rate of vaccination has stalled in some Michigan communities due to hesitancy and a lack of trust in medicine and public institutions,” Horner said in a statement. “The potential for local governments to help increase vaccination rates is coming into sharper focus since residents normally express higher levels of trust in their local governments than in the state or federal government.”

Just as vaccines became available to all in Michigan, 78% of local leaders across the state said they were somewhat or very confident that the shots were fairly distributed. Meanwhile 11% responded they were not at all confident in fair distribution and 11% said they were unsure. Survey directors said this assessment could have changed once vaccines were made widely available.

Those who served large jurisdictions or were based in Southeast Michigan were more likely to say they were not at all confident in the fair distribution of COVID vaccines while those in the Upper Peninsula were more likely to say they were very confident in local efforts.

Those surveyed in the spring include county administrators, city mayors, managers and clerks, board chairs and clerks, township supervisors, managers and clerks and village presidents, managers and clerks. In total, local leaders were polled in 1,364 Michigan jurisdictions.

The MPPS began in 2009 and is an ongoing census survey conducted by CLOSUP which covers all 1,856 general purpose local governments.

The analysis compared public opinion data from Michigan State University’s State of the State Survey.

About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.