A survey of US adults has found that up to one in five is unwilling to get vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2, and about half of them, just over ten percent of the interviewees, have stated that nothing would convince them to receive the vaccine.
In the work published in Scientific Reports, the researchers interviewed 6,037 adults. One-third of them were selected across the whole US and the remaining two-thirds hailed from the metropolitan areas of New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Chicago. The survey conducted in April 2021 aimed to identify the attitudes that the general US population had towards vaccination of SARS-CoV-2.
The survey reports that 21.4 percent of people from across the US are not interested in taking the vaccine. That’s marginally higher than what was seen in Dallas where 19.7 percent of people would refuse it but much higher than Los Angeles (11.5 percent), Chicago (11.2 percent), and New York (10.1 percent).
The reason given for an unwillingness to vaccinate was a mixture of concerns about the vaccine efficacy, vaccine safety, and questioning disease severity. The COVID-19 pandemic has been at the center of a culture war in many countries, in particular in the US, where certain politicians and media outlets aimed to minimize its deadliness and question the effectiveness of public health measures. This had the effect of galvanizing people against vaccination.
In this survey, the researchers found that the unwillingness to get the vaccine was associated with working outside of the home, having conservative political views, a lower household income, and not having tested positive for COVID-19. Education levels, race, sex, or age were not found to be associated, although older people were slightly keener on getting the vaccine.
On average across the regions sampled, 82 percent of the people believed that COVID-19 is a health threat. That is very good. But unfortunately, 18 percent didn’t think that the disease was more dangerous than the vaccine, and 15 percent didn’t believe that the vaccine can actually prevent COVID-19.
While the survey was taken months ago, the fact that only 80 percent of adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine according to the Center for Disease Control, suggests that these beliefs have not been shifted despite the now ample evidence of vaccine safety and efficacy.
In the survey over half believe that vaccine requirements by the government were good and 68 percent supported vaccination requirements for international travel. Vaccine mandates might be the crucial approach to increase vaccination rates but it is also important to tackle sources of disinformation and have better-targeted intervention to boost uptake.
In the US there have been over 45,655,000 cases of COVID-19 since January 2020 and the disease has killed over 740,000 people.