Numerous polls have been conducted during the last few months asking Americans if they would get a COVID-19 vaccine were it approved by the U.S. government and offered to the public. Polls in April-May 2020 showed that about half or more of those surveyed said they would get the vaccine. More recent polling, however, has shown a decline in the percentage of positive responses.
For example, in a nationwide poll of 1,000 adults taken by the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research at the University of Chicago during May 14-18, 49 percent of respondents said they would get vaccinated, while 20 percent said they would not. Thirty-one percent said they were unsure.1 Previous polls conducted in April and early May by YouGov/Yahoo! News, Morning Consult, and ABC News/Ipsos had registered even higher favorable responses for the percentage of Americans intending to get COVID-19 vaccines when they are licensed.
Only 43 Percent of Americans Intend to Get COVID-19 Vaccine Immediately
The April/May 2020 YouGov/Yahoo! News poll found that 55 percent of people surveyed said they would get a COVID-19 vaccine once it is licensed, while 19 percent said they would not and 26 percent said they were not sure. In the poll by Morning Consult, 64 percent said they would get the vaccine, compared to 14 percent who said they would not and 22 percent who said they were unsure.2 3 4
Of those polled by ABC News/Ipsos, 74 percent said they were either “somewhat” or “very likely” to get the vaccine, while 25 percent said they were either “not so likely” or “not likely at all” to get it.2 3 4
On July 26-27, a poll of 1,000 people conducted by WebMD showed that only 43 percent would get the vaccine during the first year it is available. An additional 30 percent said they were not sure and 28 percent said they would not get the vaccine.5 According to WebMD:
Of those who expressed uncertainty about getting vaccinated, 78% cited concerns about potential side effects, with 15% saying they believed the vaccine would not be effective in protecting against the virus.5
Worries About COVID-19 Vaccine Fast Tracking and Side Effects Main Reason for Hesitancy
Side effects, including serious (Grade 3) ones, have been reported during human clinical trials on experimental COVID-19 vaccines being developed by several leading pharmaceutical companies, including Moderna, Inc., CanSino Biologics, Inc., and a joint venture between Pfizer, Inc. and BioNTech SE.6
The latest poll conducted by YouGov/Yahoo! News during July 28-30 found that only 41 percent of those surveyed said they would get a COVID-19 vaccine when it is available, while 27 percent they would not and 32 said they were not sure.7 8
Data journalist Hoang Nguyen of YouGov said that 69 percent of those surveyed are “concerned about the safety of a vaccine being fast-tracked through the approval process.” Among those who do not trust health authorities such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “that level of concern soars to 81 percent,” Nguyen noted.7
Natalie Dean, PhD, assistant professor of biostatistics at the University of Florida, said:
I’m a vaccine researcher, and even I would place myself in the ‘not sure’ bucket. What we have right now is a collection of animal data, immune response data and safety data based on early trials and from similar vaccines for other diseases. The evidence that would convince me to get a COVID-19 vaccine, or to recommend that my loved ones get vaccinated, does not yet exist.8
1 Milling M. New Poll Shows Only Half Of Americans Would Get A Covid-19 Vaccine Once Available. Forbes May 27, 2020.
2 Neergaard L, Fingerhut H. AP-NORC poll: Half of Americans would get a COVID-19 vaccine. Associated Press May 27, 2020.
3 Solender A. Many Americans Say They Would Refuse A Coronavirus Vaccine. Forbes May 8, 2020.
4 Hansen C. Poll: 1 in 4 Americans Say They Will Not Get a Coronavirus Vaccine. U.S. News & World Report May 8, 2020.
5 Press release. WebMD Poll Finds Only One in Four Will Opt to Get Covid-19 Vaccine When First Available. WebMD July 28, 2020.
6 Cáceres M. A Grade 3 Vaccine-Related Adverse Event is Serious. The Vaccine Reaction July 26, 2020.
7 Nguyen H. Americans worry about safety of fast-tracked COVID-19 vaccines. YouGov Aug. 3, 2020.
8 Romano A. Yahoo News/YouGov coronavirus poll: Number of Americans who plan to get vaccinated falls to 42% — a new low. Yahoo! News Aug. 4, 2020.