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SDSU poll tackles trust, partisanship, and COVID-19 boosters

A new SDSU Poll looksed at South Dakotans 65 and older and focused on trust levels people had in physicians and their willingness to receive a COVID-19 booster.

Political science professor David Wiltse is director of the SDSU Poll. He said personal factors could have changed some opinions on the shot.

“What we were looking at was whether or not some changes in terms of them being concerned about catching Covid, knowing somebody who has been hospitalized for Covid, or knowing someone who has died from Covid in the last year was something that would be driving people towards a booster shot,” Wiltse said.

Through the findings, Wiltse highlighted the value of relationships between physicians and patients.

“Trust in physicians is absolutely central," Wiltse said. "If you have high trust in your physician, you’re more likely to get boosted. As you age, and as the risks really begin to mount up, you’re more likely to get boosted.”

But the politics of COVID-19 could be changing in older populations.

“Interestingly, and this is one of the most important parts of this paper, we found some evidence that with older adults, partisanship isn’t as important," Wiltse said. "It’s almost as if the partisan effect is washing away amongst older folks here, simply because the risks are so much higher than the perceived risks of being boosted.”

Another notable finding in the poll – Evangelical Christians are less likely than other population groups in the state to accept a vaccine booster, according to Wiltse.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering the legal system, education, and culture