Reasons For Low Vaccination Rates in Stanislaus County

Bruce Frohman
Former Modesto City Councilman Bruce Frohman

As of this writing, fewer than 50% of Stanislaus County residents have been fully vaccinated.  Statewide, 56% of California residents are fully vaccinated. In Stanislaus County, the number drops to 43.1%. Nearby Bay Area counties are all over 60%, with Marin County leading the way at 74.5%.

The county has large groups of folks with different reasons for avoiding Covid inoculation. The reasons are varied and the unvaccinated are difficult to persuade, even using scientific argument.

Absent a universal government mandate requiring vaccination, reaching herd immunity against the virus is not ever likely in Stanislaus County. At least 80 percent of the population would need to be vaccinated. Too many belong to the subgroups listed below.

Examining groups that choose not to obtain the vaccine may foster understanding about the challenges in gaining compliance.

Political Reasons

In some circles, the reason to avoid a vaccination is purely political.  Because of the misperception that only Liberals or Democrats want everyone to be vaccinated, the politically oriented group deems politics sufficient reason to risk their own lives and the lives of everyone around them. They would rather die than give perceived political opponents a win. Even Donald Trump was booed when he recommended getting vaccinated.

The political group waves the flag under the banner of personal freedom as the excuse for their refusal. Dying for a principle is considered noble, until they become deathly ill. Then they expect overworked medical personnel to cure them and the health system to pay for their care.

Some political folks are seeking exemption from any government mandates through religious groups.


A number of religious groups believe in the second coming of Christ and the end of the world.  They expect this event at any time and will welcome the end. They believe God will sweep them up and take them to heaven. The non-religious will perish and the saved will reside in a homogenous society of perfect souls.

Not getting the vaccine is the way to bring the end of the world sooner. And because they are the chosen ones, God will protect them from becoming ill. Or, if they die from the illness, they will reach heaven sooner.  The believers don’t care who dies as a result of their decisions as they can do no wrong because God loves them.

Other religious groups maintain that vaccine is outside of God’s will. Rather than let the vaccine help them live, they prefer to let God decide who lives or dies.

Disclaimer: not all religious groups are against vaccination.

Internet Misinformation

As a direct result of what they have read or seen, a large group that gets all information from the internet has firmly chosen not to be vaccinated. Without vetting their sources, the misinformed have accepted the internet information as accurate and have been indoctrinated to mistrust authoritative sources.

Covid-19 emerges

Logic will not persuade the indoctrinated because they believe outsiders have various conspiratorial motives and are trying to get them to take a vaccine that will harm them physically or enable the outsider to get control of their mind.

This group consists of many people who are rational and intelligent. But fear has overridden reason.

Genuine Mistrust of Vaccines

Another group of unvaccinated is the genuine unbelievers. They have never been vaccinated and never will be.  The group is very militant about their right to have absolute control of what they ingest.  They have never trusted science or the medical profession. They may rely on homeopathic therapies or other non-scientific remedies.

The Uninformed

Amazingly, despite all the media outlets and sources providing news, some people may not know that the vaccines exist. Stanislaus County government has made a substantial effort at outreach to this subset of unvaccinated. But the population is so large that it is difficult to reach everyone.

Mixture of the Groups

The list of groups above might not include everyone in the unvaccinated category, but does contain a large percentage.  Members of one group may cross over into another group. For example, a person who is political may also have a religious objection to taking the vaccine. Members of more than one group may be more intransigent about taking the vaccine than those within a single group.

Given the variety of reasons for opposing the vaccine, changing minds is exceedingly difficult. This is especially true when fear and mistrust are factors.  The reader should now comprehend the obstacles to achieving compliance despite employing logic or science.

The unvaccinated may disagree with what is written here. The information is from the perspective of someone who has been vaccinated, who believes in science, and who trusts the medical professionals in the community.


Bruce Frohman
Bruce Frohman
Bruce Frohman served on the Modesto City Council from 1999-2003. He believes the best way to build a better community is to have an informed citizenry.
Comments should be no more than 350 words. Comments may be edited for correctness, clarity, and civility.


  1. It sounds like you don’t believe in religion, is that because you your engineering/science background mind?..but if one read your, (The thought here immunity actually works is pure Fantasyland thinking) one would also know that you don’t believe in the vaccine either. you keep saying follow the science; the science has shown that the virus was manufactured in a lab, and both governments had covered it up, so yes there is a trust issue. we both agree with that if you attack a infection, virus of any type it will mutate in a different strains, the so called super bugs. science still shows that the flu still kills more people every year and yet we aren’t pushing the flu shot down everyone’s throat nor threatening their way of life, ie, livelihood (job) can’t do this, that …it’s a new race card a new form of Jim Crow. Science also shows that your body’s healthy immune system also works fine along with common sense. It also has proven that the cocktail of drugs that Trump had taken prior to him taking the jab, also works and they have been around since the 40’s and proven not to have any side effects to boot. I’m following the science and the percentage on both sides. For me, I need more time, case studies and out comes and trans parity from big pharma and the ability to use them if everything goes south on their part.

  2. While I appreciate your points and agree with most of them because they seem to be based on facts, I believe you are leaving out a very large group of us. I trust in medicine (not big pharma) and science. That is why I have not yet been vaccinated. Science takes longer to develop and to learn how effective it is and what side affects there will be. Especially for my kids. Personally I exercise, get sunshine and take the appropriate vitamins and I have been exposed many times over being a first responder. Have not contracted it yet. Eventually I plan on being vaccinated when I’m comfortable with the information from the scientific world. Kaiser published a study last week with over 550,000 people that received the Pneumonia vaccine both with and without the vaccine. The Covid information was quite impressive with the Pneumonia vaccine that has been proven safe for over 30 years. Have a great day.

  3. Um. I don’t know a single religious person who is the way you represent them.

    You also have three groups that are all the same group: mistrustful, uninformed, misinformed. Problem: you do nothing to correct the information. Perhaps you would change your view if you engaged it well enough to correctly represent it. Articles like this will not change minds, if that was your goal.

    • The common ways to deny an argument is to change the subject or attack the writer. To deny observations does not mean they are invalid or do not exist.

      The article was written for the benefit of the vaccinated in order to help them understand why many have chosen to not become vaccinated. To the vaccinated, absent a rational understanding, the unvaccinated seem irrational. Often heard “I cannot understand why anyone would choose not to take a vaccine that obviously works”.

      I have no illusion that I would be able to change minds. It does not matter that the FDA has now approved the Pfizer vaccine. Those who say the pharmaceutical companies are out to make money aren’t going to change their minds.

      I appreciate that all of the comments are supporting the central thesis of the essay.

      Sadly, those who don’t get the vaccine won’t know whether they are immune to the virus until they get sick. Friends of mine who did get Covid were ill for months. My arm was sore for a day.

      • Thank you, Bruce I am glad you wrote this article. It clearly and succinctly answers the questions we vaccinated people are asking. This public health issue has become so highly charged that it’s difficult to even raise the question in mixed [vaccinated & not] company. Recently, I responded to a posting on NextDoor about how tragic it was that someone’s friend who is a medical professional was upset she had to be vaccinated or face losing her job. There were many supporting comments made of the kind you listed. I posted a response about why we should be vaccinated & that many medical profesionals were upset that children were becoming orphans and living without grandparents in their life as a result of the disease. Predictably, there was an uproar. But one person wrote to thank me. You never know who could be persuaded by reading a simple statement of truth.

  4. I did get vaccinated but you left out a group of people who are distrustful of so-called government experts that get it wrong time and time again. Experts like Dr Fauci who says one thing one day then says another thing one week later. We were told if we were vaccinated we would not contract Corona Virus. Then were told we were safe from the Delta Variant. Turns out we can catch it just like the unvaccinated. Now Fauci is telling the nation that if everyone gets vaccinated he sees no reason why we can’t return to normalcy next spring. How many times has he said this before? People start to become skeptical when these statements never come to pass.

    • Wet Sider:
      I appreciate your frustration by the medical projections of scientists like Dr. Fauci and Francis Collins.
      They have a hard job, trying to explain proper medical understanding and behavior to a populace, without creating panic. Too often their statements get misinterpreted by us common folk outside of their field.
      For example, “We were told if we were vaccinated we would not contract Corona Virus.”
      They never said exactly that. Early studies showed that the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines were about 94-95% effective in protecting folks vaccinated. (marvelous, that is!) But what about that other 5-6%?
      Those folks would not be protected. And the early studies of effectiveness knew nothing about “breakthrough cases.” is an update on this.
      Breakthrough cases could only be discovered after months of vaccinations of millions of us, and seeing what happens. Unfortunately, the appearance of breakthrough cases is misinterpreted by some as a failure of the scientists who spoke, or a failure of the vaccines.
      If you have stuck with me reading to this point, I would suggest reading this article in the journal Science. It is not a scientific paper; it is for educated, interested public.
      It shows the complexity of scientific progress. And the discovery that the mRNA vaccines evoke unexpectedly high levels of antibodies compared to the AstraZenica and other vaccines. Good news for future vaccines.

      —- All the Best, Richard Anderson

      • I’d like to further enhance your statement by adding that Science is not absolute, it is constantly evolving and we are constantly learning new things about the Corona Virus, and other issues as well. We can only make assumptions based on the current knowledge we have. As soon as we get more data to support a different hypothesis, then our theories on how to protect our population will change.

        You have to start somewhere.

  5. The two well reasoned comments preceding this note demonstrate why convincing people to get vaccinated is so difficult.
    Instead of focusing on the fact that 99 percent of Covid patients in the hospital are unvaccinated, the writers advance arguments that seem credible but do not refute the hard data presented by the medical community.
    If the virus is manmade, then logic says man can also create the antidote. Vaccines have worked to eradicate disease in the past, but why the skepticism now?
    On a personal note, I am not against religion. But I do oppose those who use religion to try and control non-believers outside the faith.

  6. A question I recently asked ‘the system’ and didn’t get a straight answer so I’ll post here to ponder.

    If I’m vaccinated and mask up when needed but have to work with folks who have exemptions from being vaccinated, do I have any rights to work remotely or in a separate space? Or maybe to see their test results?

  7. West Sider makes an excellent point about the fallibility of experts. An expert can be wrong about something and then correct his statement later. I don’t know anyone who is right 100 percent of the time. But just because someone makes a mistake does not mean he is always wrong.

    The better question is, has Fauci been wrong many times? As he has repeatedly said, he gives the best answer he can with the data he has. Folks waiting more time for sufficient data was an excellent reason for delaying taking the vaccine. But now that hundreds of millions of doses have been administered and the evidence of efficacy is in.

    Of course, the doubters still have the right to doubt. But at some point, opinions should change.

    I don’t think vaccinated people should work alongside the unvaccinated. A vaccinated person with Covid virus not showing any symptoms can give a fatal infection to an unvaccinated person. Thus, unvaccinated are in more danger than the vaccinated in the workplace! The two groups should be kept separated!

  8. Thank you for a post raising this issue on everyones’ minds.

    Thank you, as well, for taking a cooperative stance, rather than a coercive one.

    I do ask that believers’ of the Bible not be grouped all together as to their thinking. Yes, there are judge-mental people who call themselves believers yet fail to truly understand the heart and mind of their Creator.

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