WASHINGTON (AP) – While states are frantically preparing to start vaccinations for months that could end the epidemic, a new poll says only about half of Americans are willing to put their finger up when it comes.
A survey by the Associated Press-NORC Public Affairs Research Center shows that about a quarter of American adults are unsure whether they want to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. Roughly another quarter says they won’t.
Many are on the fence with safety concerns and want to see how the initial launch develops – skepticism that could hamper the campaign against the scourge that killed nearly 290,000 Americans. Experts estimate that at least 70% of the U.S. population will need to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity, or the point where enough people are protected to keep the virus under control.
“Shivering is a good word. I’m a little scared of that. Said Kevin Buck, a 53-year-old former Marine from Eureka, California.
Buck said he and his family are likely to be vaccinated if the first shots go well.
“I think a lot of people aren’t sure what to believe, and I’m one of them,” he said.
Amid scary ripples in COVID-19, which promises a bleak winter across the country, the challenge for health authorities is to figure out what it takes to make people trust the footage that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief infectious disease expert in the United States called the end of the tunnel.
“If Dr. Fauci says it’s good, I’ll do it,” said Mary Lang, 71, of Fremont, California. He added: “Hopefully, if we get enough vaccines, this virus could go away.”
Early data suggests that two U.S. cutting-edge fields – one vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech, the other from Moderna and the National Institutes of Health – provide strong protection. The Food and Drug Administration is examining the results of the study to make sure the recordings are safe before deciding whether to allow mass vaccinations in the coming days, as Britain started with Pfizer’s shots on Tuesday.
Despite the encouraging news, feelings didn’t change much compared to the AP-NORC poll in May, before it was clear that a vaccine would be developed.
In a survey of 117 U.S. adults conducted on December 3-7, about 3 in 10 said they had very or extreme confidence that the safety and effectiveness of the first vaccines available had been properly tested. About the same number said they were not confident. The others fell somewhere in the middle.
About 10 out of 10 who said they would not be vaccinated are worried about side effects. According to Pfizer and Moderna, testing has not revealed any serious ones so far. As with many vaccines, recipients may experience fever, fatigue, or arm pain after injection, indicating that the immune system is recovering.
But other risks may occur until vaccines are used more widely. British health authorities are investigating two possible allergic reactions on the first day the country started mass vaccinations with the Pfizer shot.
Of Americans who do not receive the vaccine, 43% are concerned that the vaccine itself could infect them, according to a poll – which is scientifically impossible because the recordings do not contain the virus.
Protecting their families, communities, and their own health is a major driver for people in need of vaccination. Roughly three-quarters said life would not return to normal until enough parts of the country were vaccinated.
“Even if it helps a little, I’d take it,” said 67-year-old Ralph Martinez, who runs a grocery store in Dallas. “I honestly don’t think they’re putting up anything that could hurt us.”
During the summer, about one-third of Martinez employees were at COVID-19. She wears a mask on a daily basis, but is worried about constant public contact and worried that her 87-year-old mother is similarly exposed to her business.
COVID-19 killed or hospitalized black, Hispanic, and Indigenous people in a much higher proportion than white Americans. Still, 53% of white Americans said they get vaccinated, compared to 24% of black Americans and 34% of Spaniards like Martinez.
Due to the insufficient sample size, the survey was unable to analyze the outcomes of Native Americans or other racial and ethnic groups that make up a smaller portion of the U.S. population.
Horace Carpenter, of Davenport, Florida, knows she is vulnerable as a black man at age 86. “I want you to come out first,” he said of the vaccination. But he said he also plans to follow Fauci’s advice.
Given the nation’s long-standing racial health inequalities and research abuses against black people, Carpenter is not surprised that minority communities are more hesitant about new vaccines.
“There is such racial inequality in our society,” he said. – There must be some hiccups.
It is not surprising, according to health experts, that people have doubts because it will take time for test results for vaccines to become widely known.
“Sometimes you have to ask people more than once,” said John Grabenstein, a retired colonel in the Army of Immunization Action who led the Department of Defense’s immunization program. He said that in the end, many people decide that “it is much, much better to take this vaccine than the risk of a coronavirus infection.”
Added to the challenge are the political divisions that have hampered public health efforts to curb the epidemic. According to the poll, 6 out of 10 Democrats were found vaccinated, compared to 4 out of 10 Republicans; about a third of Republicans said they would not.
Only about one-fifth of Americans are very or extremely confident that vaccines will be distributed safely and quickly, or fairly, although the majority is at least a little confident.
Nancy Nolan, 64, teaches English as a second language at a community college in New Jersey and has seen the difficulties her students face in testing and caring for the coronavirus.
“I don’t think it’s fair,” he said. – I hope I’m wrong.
He also expressed concern about the speed at which the vaccine was being developed: “If I rush, I could have a car accident, I could make a mistake.”
Experts stressed that the corners were not filtered out during the development, the quick work was attributed to billions of public funding and more than a decade of backstage.
Healthcare workers and those living in nursing homes are at the forefront of scarce starting doses. It is planned to follow other basic workers and people over the age of 65 or those at increased risk due to other health problems before enough vaccination is available for everyone, probably in the spring.
According to the survey, the majority of Americans agree with this priority list. And 59% believe that vaccination of teachers should also be a priority. Most also agree with the higher priority of severely affected color communities and people living in crowded living conditions, such as homeless shelters and university dormitories.
“After caring for these individuals, I wouldn’t hesitate to get the vaccine if it was available to me,” said Richard Martinez, 35, a psychologist in Austin, Texas, who nevertheless understands the public’s doubts.
“I think it would be naive to think that resources don’t lead someone to the beginning of the line,” he said.
Journalists Marion Renault, Federica Narancio and Kathy Young contributed to the report.
The AP-NORC poll used a sample taken from the NORC probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which was designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The sampling error rate for all respondents is plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.
Online: AP-NORC Center: http://www.apnorc.org/.
The Department of Health and Science of the Associated Press receives support from the Department of Science Education at the Howard Hughes Institute of Medicine. All content is the sole responsibility of AP.