As American states staggering under the worst Covid-19 numbers in the world prepare to begin months of vaccinations that could end the pandemic, a new poll finds only about half of Americans are willing to roll up their sleeves when their turn comes.
The survey from The Associated Press and the Center for Public Affairs Research shows about 25% of American adults are not sure if they want to get vaccinated against Covid-19. But around another 25% say they definitely won’t do it.
Experts estimate at least 70% of the population needs to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity, the point at which enough people are protected for the virus to be held in check.
“I have a little bit of trepidation towards it,” said Kevin Buck, a 53-year-old former Marine from California. He said he and his family will probably get vaccinated eventually if initial shots go well. “I know there was a reason to rush the vaccine development,” he said. “But I think a lot of people are not sure what to believe, and I’m one of them.”
Experts have stressed that no corners were cut during development of the vaccine, attributing the speedy work to billions in government funding and more than a decade of relevant research and development.
The challenge for health authorities is to figure out what it will take to make people trust the shots.
The survey shows 70% of those who say they won’t get vaccinated claim they are concerned about side effects. They may be relatively easy to convince once vaccinations have been up and running for a while without negative reactions.
But it could be almost impossible to convince the 30% who say they are not worried about getting ill from the virus, and the further 25% who say the disease isn’t as serious as the government claims it is.
Polls repeatedly show the elderly are among those most open to the vaccine.
“Dr Fauci is the government expert and if he says it’s good, I’ll do it,” said Mary Lang, 71, from California. “Hopefully if enough of us get the vaccine, we can make this virus go away.”