September 11, 2020
Nearly half of Americans hesitant to get a COVID vaccine
The race for a COVID-19 vaccine is well underway, with dozens of vaccine candidates being tested worldwide. Because vaccines typically take a decade to get to market, the pace of Operation Warp Speed—which aims to deliver a COVID vaccine by January 2021—has raised concerns that the government will sacrifice vaccine safety and efficacy for speed. Shown in the graphic below, a survey conducted by Jarrard Phillips Cate & Hancock and Public Opinion Strategies found nearly half of American adults are on the fence about getting a COVID-19 vaccine,with over 20 percent saying they are unlikely to get one at all. This hesitancy is greater among both female and Black respondents—with the latter doubly concerning given that Blacks have been disproportionately impacted by the disease. The top reasons given for skepticism include concerns about side effects (47 percent) and the risk of becoming infected by the vaccine (22 percent). A related survey from STAT and the Harris Poll found that 78 percent of Americans worry the vaccination approval process is being driven more by politics than science. Whom do consumers trust for information? Their doctors. Physicians must be prepared to answer questions about how they have evaluated a vaccine, why they believe it to be safe and effective, and whether they have chosen to take it themselves. As providers prepare to deliver millions of vaccine doses once one is approved and available, leveraging the trust inherent in physician-patient relationships will be essential, especially among vaccine-hesitant populations.