NEW YORK – About 1 in 3 Americans say they definitely or probably won't get the COVID-19 vaccine, according to a new poll some experts say is disheartening news as the US hopes to achieve herd immunity and overcome the outbreak .
The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll found that 67% of Americans plan to get vaccinated or have already been vaccinated, 15% are sure they won't, and 17% probably say they will not. Many had doubts about the vaccine's safety and effectiveness.
The poll suggests that substantial skepticism persists for more than a month and a half in a US vaccination drive that has experienced little or no serious side effects. It found that opposition is higher among young people, those without college degrees, black Americans, and Republicans.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's leading infectious disease scientist, estimates that somewhere between 70% and 85% of the US population will need to be vaccinated to stop the plague that killed nearly 470,000 Americans. More recently, he said the spread of more contagious variants of the virus is increasing the need for more people to take their photos – and quickly.
So is 67% of Americans enough?
"No. No, no, no, no," said William Hanage, a Harvard University expert on disease dynamics. He added, "You're going to have to get quite a large portion of the population vaccinated before you really see any effect. . "
According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 33 million Americans, or about 10% of the population, have received at least one dose and 9.8 million have been fully vaccinated.
The survey of 1,055 adults, held from January 28 to February 1, provides insight into the skepticism.
Of those who said they will definitely not get the vaccine, 65% cited concerns about side effects, despite the safety record of the shots over the past few months. About the same percentage said they don't trust COVID-19 vaccines. And 38% said they don't believe they need a vaccine, while a similar share say they don't know if a COVID-19 vaccine will work and they don't trust the government.
Of those who are unlikely to receive the vaccine but have not ruled it out completely, 63% said they would wait to see if it is safe, and 60% said they were concerned about possible side effects.
“I don't trust medicines. Not really. And it doesn't sound like it will be safe, ”said Debra Nanez, a 67-year-old retired nurse from Tucson, Arizona.
Nanez said she's gotten flu and pneumonia shots, but is concerned about rumors about what's in the coronavirus vaccine, and her friends have the same hesitation.
& # 39; It would take me a while to research it to make sure it's safe. I just don't want to take anything that could harm me, ”she said.
Baron Walker, a 42-year-old fired insulation installer from Parkersburg, West Virginia, said he is "probably not" in the column, at least for now.
He said if he was elderly or lived in a densely populated area, he would consider the vaccine more strongly. But he's in the countryside of the country, wearing a mask and keeping himself socially aloof, and he thinks there's a good chance the nation will achieve immunity to herds, he said.
"I feel like I have enough time before I get the chance to get (the vaccine) to find out if there are any bad side effects and if it's even worth getting it," Walker said.
In interviews, some Americans expressed concerns about the revolutionary speed at which the vaccines were being developed – less than a year.
"I feel like they are rushing it," said Walker.
That was echoed by Matt Helderman, 31, from Greer, South Carolina.
"I'd like to see more safety data," said Helderman, a video editor and associate producer for a Christian TV show. He also said that he would like to see more clarity about whether the vaccine is effective against new variants.
Health officials are trying to combat concerns about the vaccine with science.
The latest evidence indicates that the two vaccines used in the US – Pfizers and Moderna & # 39; s – are effective even against the variants, Fauci said.
While the development of the vaccines was unusually fast, this was also the result of many years of research. And the vaccines underwent clinical trials with thousands of people monitored for 60 days after their last dose. Studies with other vaccines have shown that harmful side effects almost always occur within 45 days.
"Safety was certainly not compromised, nor was scientific integrity compromised," said Fauci. “Many have cause for skepticism. But I think if you explain the facts and the data to them, you can win them. "
The study found that older Americans, in particular, who are more vulnerable to COVID-19, are likely to say they received an injection or are likely or certain to be vaccinated. Four in ten of those under 45 say they are likely or certainly not going to receive a vaccine, compared to a quarter of the elderly.
Black Americans seem less likely than white Americans to say they got the shot or are certain or likely to be vaccinated, 57% versus 68%. 65% of Hispanic Americans say they have received or plan to have the vaccine.
Public health experts have long known that some Black Americans are suspicious of the medical establishment because of its history of abuse, including the infamous Tuskegee Study, which left black patients with syphilis untreated so doctors could study the disease.
Americans without a college degree are more likely than college graduates to say they are definitely or likely not to be vaccinated, 40% versus 17%. And Republicans are more likely to say that than Democrats, 44% versus 17%.
Fingerhut reported from Washington.
The AP-NORC survey of 1,055 adults was conducted January 28 through February. 1 using a sample drawn from NORC's probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.
The Associated Press Department of Health and Science is supported by the Science Education Department of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
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