Survey: 1 in 7 people have ended friendships over COVID-19 vaccine stance

September 23, 2021

A survey of 1,000 Americans conducted in September found that 1 out of 7 respondents had ended a friendship over COVID-19 vaccination status. The survey, which was conducted by OnePoll Research, a market research company, looked at the reasons why people have broken up with friends during the pandemic.

When it came to disputes over vaccination, the survey found that 66% of those who lost a friend over the shot had been vaccinated, while 17% do not ever plan to get the shot. Of the vaccinated respondents, 14% said that they had ended a relationship with a friend who did not want to get the shot, reports the Today Show.

Fully 97% of vaccinated people who ended a friendship said that they considered their former friends to be “full-blown anti-vaxxers” who would never understand the importance of the vaccine, which has been proven to be safe and effective.

The survey also asked unvaccinated people why they wouldn’t be vaccinated. “Many” said that it was a personal choice, while others expressed distrust about the vaccine or its potential side effects. The study did not include percentages or other statistics about why people were not getting the vaccine.

Respondents also had other reasons for ending friendships: 16% said that they had lost a friend because of having different political views, while 15% said they ended a relationship because their former friend was dating or sleeping with an ex-partner. Yet another 12% of respondents ended a friendship because the other party was “making up rumors about them,” and 7% broke it off because the other person was a liar.

The phenomenon of ending friendships due to the vaccine took the national spotlight when actor Jennifer Aniston told InStyle that she was distancing herself from friends who wouldn’t be vaccinated.

“There’s still a large group of people who are anti-vaxxers or just don’t listen to the facts. It’s a real shame,” Aniston said. “I’ve just lost a few people in my weekly routine who have refused or did not disclose (whether or not they had been vaccinated), and it was unfortunate.”

Marriage and family therapist Racine Henry told Today in August that it’s not surprising that the pandemic has had an impact on friendships and other important relationships. “People are second-guessing some of their friendships and relationships based on how people behaved during the pandemic,” Henry said. “A lot of questions were called up around what your belief system is, how much of a conspiracy theorist a person might be or how someone can use critical thinking skills.”

However, it’s not all bad news for friendships: Shasta Nelson, friendship expert and author of “Frientimacy,” told TMRW in August that she believed the pandemic had actually changed some relationships for the better.  “Many of us got closer to fewer people, which is interesting because when we’re lonely, it’s not that we need to meet more people, we need to go deeper with a few and feel more seen,” she said.

“… If I had to choose one over the other, I’d choose for people to have fewer closer friends where they feel supported, witnessed, loved and accepted,” Nelson added.

Even if you did lose a friendship during the pandemic, Henry expressed some tentative hope that those bridges can be fixed in some situations. “Some relationships can be worked on. Some can be massaged and reconciled. And there’s a way in which you can respectfully disagree,” Henry said.

“But if your opinion or stance on something threatens me or my physical safety, that can’t be repaired.”

Research contact: @TODAYshow

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