One-third of U.S. adults unsure or won't get COVID-19 vaccine

By Melissa Busch, DrBicuspid.com assistant editor

September 16, 2020 -- About 14% of people in the U.S. "probably" or "definitely" will not get the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available, and another 17% remain unsure, according to a study published online on August 20 in Vaccine.

Though 69% of U.S. adults reported they likely would get the COVID-19 vaccine, which indicates greater interest than for other types of vaccines, several factors, like the shot's effectiveness and a person's perceived health threat, affected their decision.

"Many adults are willing to get a COVID-19 vaccine, though acceptability should be monitored as vaccine development continues," wrote the authors, led by Paul Reiter, PhD, of the health behavior and health promotion division at Ohio State University College of Public Health.

The magic bullet

Universities and pharmaceutical companies began working on vaccine candidates and therapies as soon as countries saw the pandemic ravage their populations. As the death toll rose, specifically in the U.S., so did misinformation campaigns surrounding the severity of the virus, turning the vaccine search into a political issue.

Despite teams moving closer to a vaccine, the support for it has faltered among some populations. With speculation that a vaccine may be available in 2021, it is critical to know whether the public will accept it.

Approximately 2,000 adults from all 50 states and the District of Columbia participated in the study's survey in May. The study was funded by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, which is part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Of those who participated, more than 630 said they were inclined not to get the vaccine or were unsure. About 1,400 reported they "definitely" or "probably" would get inoculated, according to the authors.

The strongest predictors of whether they would get vaccinated were the effectiveness of the shot, whether their healthcare providers would recommend it, and whether they personally perceived they were at risk of getting COVID-19. Participants who identified their political affiliation as liberal or moderate were much more likely to accept a vaccine.

Though these results can be used to guide the planning and development of public efforts, the study had several limitations, including that a convenience sample of participants were recruited from an opt-in survey panel. Though the demographic characteristics of participants are like those in the U.S., this limitation should be considered, the authors wrote.

This highlights that "vaccine acceptability may differ by several demographic characteristics, as well as the key role that healthcare providers and modifiable health beliefs play in acceptability of a COVID-19 vaccine," they wrote.


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