According to a new survey by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, only about half of Americans say they would get a COVID-19 vaccine if scientists working hard to create one succeed.
This is surprisingly low considering the effort in the global race for a coronavirus vaccine that has sparked a pandemic since its first appearance in China late last year. But more people could potentially roll up their sleeves: the poll, released Wednesday, found that 31% were just not sure if they were vaccinated. Another in five said he would refuse.
Health experts are already worried about the whiplash if the vaccine promises that President Donald Trump’s target of 300 million doses by January will fail. Only time and science will tell – and the new poll shows that the public is indeed skeptical.
“It’s always best to under promise and over deliver,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
“The unexpected is important and that is why I think for one of these vaccines, we will need a large safety database to reassure,” he added.
Among Americans who say they don’t get vaccinated, 7 in 10 are concerned about safety.
“I’m not an anti-vaxxer,” said Melanie Dries, 56, of Colorado Springs, Colorado. But “to get a COVID-19 vaccine in a year or two … I’m afraid it won’t be widely tested for side effects.”
Dr. Francis Collins, who heads the National Institutes of Health, insists that safety is the top priority. The NIH is creating a blueprint to test the main COVID-19 vaccine candidates in tens of thousands of people, to prove that they really work and also that they are safe.
“I don’t want people to think we are making decisions because that would be a big mistake. I think it’s an effort to try to save money, but not to sacrifice rigor, “said Collins at the PA earlier this month.
“The worst thing that can possibly happen is the rush of a vaccine that turns out to have significant side effects,” added Collins.
Among those wanting a vaccine, the AP-NORC survey found protecting their family, family and community the main reason.
“I will definitely get it,” said Brandon Grimes, 35, of Austin, Texas. “As a father who takes care of his family, I think … it is important for me to get vaccinated as soon as he is available to better protect my family. “
And about 7 in 10 people who get vaccinated say life will not return to normal without a vaccine. A site foreman for the family-run construction company, Grimes travels from house to house interacting with different teams, and said some of his colleagues are also eagerly awaiting vaccination to minimize on-the-job risk.
The new coronavirus is the most dangerous for the elderly and people of all ages who have chronic health problems such as diabetes or heart disease. The survey found that 67% of people 60 and older say they get the vaccine, compared to 40% younger.
And the death toll suggests that blacks and Hispanics are more vulnerable to COVID-19, due to unequal access to health care and other factors. Yet the survey found that only 25% of African Americans and 37% of Hispanics would receive a vaccine against 56% of whites.
Of those who do not want a vaccine, about 4 in 10 say they are concerned about catching COVID-19 from the bullet. But most major vaccine candidates do not contain the coronavirus itself, which means that they cannot cause infection.
And 3 in 10 who do not want a vaccine are not afraid of getting seriously ill from the coronavirus.
More than 5.5 million people worldwide have been confirmed infected with the virus, and more than 340,000 deaths have been recorded, including nearly 100,000 in the United States, according to a count by Johns Hopkins University. Experts believe that the real balance sheet is significantly higher.
And while most people who receive COVID-19 have mild cases and are recovering, doctors are still finding coronavirus attacks much more devious than simply causing pneumonia – from blood clots to heart and kidney damage up to at the last fear, a potentially fatal inflammatory reaction in children.
Regardless of the final statistics on how often it kills, health experts agree that the new coronavirus seems to be more deadly than the typical flu. However, the survey suggests that a vaccine would not be more popular than the annual flu vaccine.
Around the world, a dozen COVID-19 vaccine candidates are in the early stages of testing or about to start. British researchers are opening one of the largest studies to date to test a cliché created by the University of Oxford on 10,000 people.
For all the Trump Administration Operation Warp Speed promises, “Only 20% of Americans expect any vaccine to be available to the public by the end of the year, according to the poll. Most believe that next year is more likely.
Political divisions over how the country is reopening the economy are also reflected in the desire for a vaccine. More than half of Democrats are calling for a vaccine needed to reopen, compared to about a third of Republicans. While 62% of Democrats would receive the vaccine, only 43% of Republicans say the same thing.
“There is still a lot of uncertainty about taking the vaccine,” said Caitlin Oppenheimer, who directs NORC public health research. “There are many opportunities to communicate with Americans about the value and safety of a vaccine. “
AP video journalist Federica Narancio contributed to this report.
The AP-NORC survey of 1056 adults was conducted from May 14 to 18, using a sample from the NORC probability-based AmeriSpeak panel, which is designed to be representative of the American population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.