Poll signals new approach at Museum of Science
Institution is getting involved in vaccination debate
THE BOSTON MUSEUM OF SCIENCE, known primarily as an interesting place to visit, took a step out into the community on Tuesday, releasing a poll surveying the attitudes of Massachusetts residents about a COVID-19 vaccine.
The poll contained some interesting findings – most Massachusetts residents want to be vaccinated and women of color are the most hesitant about getting the shot (or shots) – but it was also a clear signal that the museum is no longer waiting for people to walk in the door but reaching out into the community to showcase science in a new way.
Tim Ritchie, who took over as president of the museum just prior to the start of the pandemic, said the institution is still going to welcome guests with its exhibits, IMAX films, and lectures. But it’s also going to get out into the world and mix it up on issues where science plays an important role. The poll, a first for the museum, is a start in that direction.
“Every nonprofit organization, including the Museum of Science, has to answer one question – how will the world be different in positive way because we exist,” Ritchie said. “If we build public trust in science, the world will be better.”
Ritchie wants to help move that debate forward. “We want to transition from being a community institution to being a community resource for problem solving,” he said. “This is the kind of thing we should be doing now and should have been doing all along.”
The poll, which was paid for by the museum in a partnership with the Massachusetts League of Community Centers, was conducted from November 18-25 in English and Spanish by the MassINC Polling Group. The poll surveyed 1,180 Massachusetts residents, 250 black and 250 Latino residents.
According to the poll, 71 percent of those surveyed said they were very or somewhat likely to be vaccinated. Thirty-six percent said they planned to get the vaccine as soon as possible, 19 percent said they would get the shots after a few other people tried them, and 28 percent said they would wait until many other people are vaccinated first. Seven percent said they would not be vaccinated.
Men, according to the poll, are more eager to be vaccinated than women. Forty-four percent of white men said they would get vaccinated as soon as possible, compared to 36 percent of black men and 23 percent of Latino men. By contrast, 31 percent of white women, 21 percent of Latino women, and 19 percent of black women felt similarly.Generally, the survey found that people were fairly well informed about the vaccine, although there were concerns about whether it has been adequately tested. A large number of people also said they completely or mostly trusted some of the officials and government institutions that are likely to play a role in the vaccine rollout.
Personal physicians had the trust of 80 percent of those surveyed, while the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was trusted by 71 percent. Others on the list included the US Food and Drug Administration (64 percent), Dr. Anthony Fauci (62 percent), Massachusetts state government (53 percent), Joe Biden (48 percent), Gov. Charlie Baker (29 percent), and President Trump (20 percent).