According to a Washington State University poll, a tiny but considerable percentage of couples have one spouse who is vaccinated against COVID-19 and another who is not. When it came to religious considerations, the reasons for not receiving the injection varied depending on which spouse in the marriage was reporting it.
The majority of the 1,300 respondents who lived with their significant others said they were in a “concordant” relationship, which means they were either both vaccinated (63.28 percent) or both unvaccinated (21.09 percent). The remaining 15.63 percent were in a “discordant” relationship, in which one spouse received the injection while the other did not.
Partners have been shown to have a lot of influence on each other’s health behaviors, said Karen Schmaling, the WSU psychologist who conducted the first known scientific study to look into this issue, detailing the results in the journal Vaccine.
As part of the survey, Schmaling asked respondents in discordant couples to rank 10 common reasons for being unvaccinated on a scale of 0 to 10 for their importance. People on both sides of the issue ranked vaccine safety as having the highest importance as a reason either they or their partners were unvaccinated, but there were significant differences in other reasons. Vaccinated people ranked the misperception that “COVID-19 isn’t real” and medical issues as more strong reasons and religious opposition as less strong reasons why their partners hadn’t gotten the shot.
Schmaling also noted several write-in answers from vaccinated people for why their significant others remained unvaccinated including “the government is overstepping its bounds” and “he’s stubborn.” Write-in answers from self-reporting unvaccinated people included “I am not afraid of COVID” and “I have natural immunity.”
The survey questioned only individuals and not both members of each couple, and Schmaling said that would be a good area for future research. She cautioned that circumstances resulting in apparent discordant behavior in this study may not indicate an actual disagreement, such as in the case where someone who would have preferred not to get vaccinated but had to for their job.
“The first thing is to try to estimate how common this is, and the next is to figure out why,” she said. “If it looks like there’s a disagreement, it would be fascinating to find out from some of these couples what their conversations have been like and how have they tried to resolve it?”