Nearly a quarter of Americans say they will never get a COVID-19 vaccine if they can help it, a new poll reveals.
It comes as COVID-19 deaths in the US surpass 450,000 amid a vaccine rollout that got off to a painfully slow start and was hampered by distrust of the shots.
Monmouth University’s poll, released Wednesday, found that nearly two months into the rollout, only half of Americans want the vaccine as soon as possible.
And Republicans were more likely to refuse the shot, with 42 percent saying they will avoid getting vaccinated if at all possible.
Both COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the US – made by Pfizer and Moderna – are safe and at least 94 percent effective, but the new survey suggests that public confidence in the shots is still relatively low.
Monmouth University surveyed 809 Americans about a wide range of their attitudes toward the COVID-19 pandemic and the US response.
Nearly a quarter of Americans say they will likely never get a COVID-19 vaccine, and just half of people surveyed by Monmouth University say they will get one as soon as possible
The American effort to get COVID-19 under control has been mired in mistakes, delays and general disorganization.
Still the development and emergency approval of two coronavirus vaccines in under a year was a monumental feat for science.
But scientists have a saying about vaccines: Vaccines don’t save lives – vaccinations save lives.
In that light, the US has struggled.
Technically challenged though it was to make vaccines in record time, the bigger challenge was convincing Americans to take them.
During months of development, surveys showed time and time again that the main reason Americans were reluctant to get vaccinated was fear that the shots had been developed to fast to be proven safe.
And conspiracy theories fanned the flames of mistrust, as social media exploded with wild theories that the COVID-19 vaccine contained a tracking microchip, or simply was actually designed to give people coronavirus.
There is no merit to either theory.
Republicans were 10-times more likely to say they would never get a vaccine than Democrats, and 25 percent of Independents plan to refuse vaccination
Yet mistrust persists. More than 33.7 million vaccines have been administered in the US. About 21 cases of anaphylactic shock – a severe allergic reaction – were reported in connection to Pfizer’ vaccine. during the first week of vaccinations.
Nine were found in connection to Moderna’s shot, between December 21 and January 10.
One death is being investigated by the FDA after a man died of a rare blood disorder days after receiving a Pfizer vaccine.
There have been no deaths confirmed to be caused by either vaccine, and side effects are generally mild, and include symptoms like chills, muscle aches and fatigue, which are a normal result of the immune system revving up in response to the shot.
Older Americans are more likely to want to be first in line for a shot, Monmouth’s poll found, with 67 percent wanting to get it as soon as they could, or having already received it.
Democrats, too were eager, and 72 percent said they would get the shot as soon as it was offered to them, or had already done so.
Younger adults are on the fence, with 52 percent ready to get the shot immediately, or already having gotten one or more dose.
The never-vaccine group leaned right and tended to be younger.
More than a quarter of people under 65 said they would never get the shot if they weren’t required to.
And 42 percent of Republicans said they would never get a vaccine, compared to 10 percent of Democrats and 25 percent of Republicans.
Though the survey was fairly small, it suggests that public health messaging still a ways to go in its effort to convince Americans that COVID-19 vaccines are worth it.
If it is reflective of the larger population, nearly 25 percent of people won’t get vaccinated.
And that’s a critical proportion because experts think that 75 percent is at the lower range of how many people need to be vaccinated in order for the US to reach herd immunity against COVID-19.