94% of Republicans believe or are unsure of at least 1 falsehood about COVID-19 or the vaccines

By Eliza Relman

Nearly all Republicans believe or are unsure about at least one common falsehood about COVID-19 or the vaccines, according to a new poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation. 

The survey found that 48% of Republicans believe or are unsure about between one and three common false statements and another 46% believe or are unsure about four or more falsehoods. These false claims include that the US government "is exaggerating the number of COVID-19 deaths," that "pregnant women should not get the COVID-19 vaccine," and "deaths due to the COVID-19 vaccine are being intentionally hidden by the government."

But the poll indicates that vaccine misinformation isn't just prevalent among conservative voters. A majority of Democrats — 62% — and 79% of independents believe or are unsure about at least one of eight common falsehoods. 

The survey found that Republicans were significantly more likely than Democrats to believe or be unsure about whether pregnant women should be vaccinated (they should), whether Ivermectin is a safe and effective coronavirus treatment (it's not), and whether the vaccines cause infertility (they don't). 

Overall, 78% of Americans said they either believe or unsure about at least one of the common falsehoods. The most commonly believed falsehood, which 38% of Americans believe is true, is that the government is exaggerating the COVID-19 death count by including deaths from other causes. Overall, 17% of Americans believe pregnant women shouldn't be vaccinated against the virus, while just 8% believe the COVID-19 vaccines can change an individual's DNA. 

Additionally, 18% of Americans believe the government is intentionally hiding deaths due to the vaccines — another 17% said they'd heard this claim before and aren't sure whether it was true or not. While just 8% believe the coronavirus vaccines have been shown to cause infertility, an additional 23% said they aren't sure if this was true.

The tendency to believe misinformation or be uncertain about the virus and vaccines was significantly more common among rural and non-college educated people, according to the poll.