Americans express a "wait and see" attitude toward COVID-19 vaccine, but trust in own doctors, free access and peer reinforcement could drive vaccine uptake
Majority believes vaccine won't be available for most Americans until months after approval, and are willing to put the vulnerable & frontline workers before themselves
Vast majority of Americans want Republican and Democratic Governors to develop a coordinated response to COVID-19
Oct 29, 2020, 08:00 ET
WASHINGTON, Oct. 29, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- COVID Collaborative, a bipartisan assembly of health, education, and economic experts, today released a national poll with Hart Research revealing that only 35% of Americans say they will definitely get a COVID-19 vaccine when it is released, and 61% say they will "wait and see" what happens to other Americans before making the decision to get vaccinated.
Such hesitancy comes in the context of serious worry over COVID-19, with 88% of Americans seeing it as a serious problem or that the worst is yet to come, 87% saying it is more dangerous than the flu, and 91% expressing concern that a family member will get sick. The poll found that a significant majority of Americans see a vaccine as a critical step in addressing a major health threat and reopening the economy, but they have worries about the process.
Seventy-nine percent of Americans, including 84% of African Americans and 80% of Latinx Americans, express concern that political expediency could compromise a safe, effective process for vaccine development. If the vaccine came before the election, 44% of Americans overall and fully 54% of African Americans would be less confident in it.
"Americans understand the public health value of a vaccine and are eager to see one developed. But the current political climate has caused Americans across party lines—but especially in communities of color—to fear that the vaccine will not be safe," Michelle Williams, Dean of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said. "It is the job of Governors and the public health community to rebuild that trust and to assure the American people, with facts and science, that the vaccine they receive will help protect themselves and their loved ones and help them get their lives back."
The poll provides some insight into where trust does exist, which tends to be closer to home— 82% of Americans trust their own doctor's recommendation about the vaccine and 67% trust their own pharmacist's recommendation, compared to lower levels of trust in federal officials, with 62% reporting that they trust the FDA's recommendations.
According to the survey, certain factors—such as peer group reinforcement, free access, and concern for family health—could help build trust and drive vaccine uptake. Sixty-six percent of Americans who are currently unsure if they will get the vaccine said they would be more likely to do so if others in their demographic group reported a positive experience. Seventy-two percent would definitely or probably get the vaccine if it were free, compared to only 44% if the vaccine cost $100. Seventy-two percent are motivated to get the vaccine to protect their vulnerable loved ones.
"Partnering across key stakeholders – federal and local leaders, health care professionals, community organizations, and others – will be critical for promoting equitable access to vaccines," said Mark McClellan, Director of the Duke Margolis Health Policy Center, Former FDA Commissioner, and Member of the COVID Collaborative. "Equitable vaccine access requires not only effective distribution to every community, but also clear and accurate communication from those that the community can trust."
Apart from highlighting concerns about the vaccine, the poll reveals that Americans overwhelmingly support getting vaccines to those at highest risk and with the highest leverage of stopping the pandemic. Eighty-four percent of Americans support a prioritized system for distribution that considers factors like what will prevent the spread of the virus, what will prevent the most deaths, and what will protect people from long-term complications.
"It's no surprise that the American people are willing to put others before themselves at this time of need," said Dirk Kempthorne, former Governor of Idaho (R) and co-chair of COVID Collaborative. "It's part of who we are as a people, and this poll highlights that Americans want health care workers, nursing home workers, and other at-risk populations to be safe and protected for the good of our nation."
The survey reveals that Americans recognize the vaccine as just one part of a broader coordinated response, with mask wearing and social distancing as key measures to controlling the spread—and 86% think it is important for Democratic and Republican Governors to work together to develop a coordinated response.
"This virus does not respect state lines. It does not know about blue states or red states," said Deval Patrick, former Governor of Massachusetts (D) and co-chair of COVID Collaborative. "It's on all of us to come together to beat this crisis—and I have faith that America's Governors will continue to step up to answer the call."
The COVID Collaborative is a national assembly for the COVID-19 crisis, bringing together leading experts in health, education, and the economy to support and empower state and local leaders to take unified action to turn the tide on the pandemic.
SOURCE COVID Collaborative
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