Public health experts and political leaders who say a vaccine is our only hope of stopping the spread of the coronavirus have some work to do.
One-third of Americans say they would refuse to be vaccinated, a new survey released Friday reveals.
The Gallup poll asked 7,632 respondents the following question: “If an FDA-approved vaccine to prevent coronavirus/COVID-19 was available right now at no cost, would you agree to be vaccinated?”
The results showed that only 65 percent of respondents said they would get a federally approved vaccine if it were ready today — leaving 35 percent admitting they would not.
The split is roughly the same when broken down into males and females, as well as for white Americans.
However, a higher percentage of minorities — who’ve been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 — said they would be reluctant to take a vaccine. Fifty-nine percent of non-white respondents said they would get vaccinated but 41 percent would not.
“As the situation stands today, the nation’s influencers — including health professionals, policymakers and leaders — who see a vaccine as a way forward may have their work cut out for them in persuading Americans to take advantage of such an option,” Gallup said of the findings.
“Policymakers in government, healthcare, industry and education will need to anticipate that a significant proportion of the population will be hesitant to get a vaccine, even at no cost. Some of the most at-risk populations, including non-White and rural Americans, may not only be hesitant but resistant to getting vaccinated. Employers continuing to grapple with new workplace realities must also anticipate that a number of their workers may resist a vaccine.”
Resistance to vaccinations is nothing new in the United States, which has a sizable “anti-vaxxer” movement. Many people refuse vaccinations for religious or other reasons.
Gallup noted that a poll in 1954 found 31 percent of Americans said they would refuse to get a polio vaccination.
The current poll also reveals a differing of opinion across party lines.
The vast majority of Democrats (81 percent) said they would get a COVID-19 vaccination, while 19 percent said they wouldn’t. Meanwhile, less than half (47 percent) of Republicans said they would get a shot, while the majority (53 percent) would reject it.
Fifty-nine percent of self-described independents would get vaccinated, while 41 wouldn’t, the poll shows.
Among age groups, the survey found that 76 percent of adults ages 18 to 29 are willing to get a COVID-19 vaccination, as are 70 percent of senior citizens.
Willingness to be vaccinated is lower among the middle-aged groups — 64 percent among those 30 to 49 years old and 59 percent among those between 50 and 64.
The poll queried Americans from July 20 through Aug. 2 and has a margin of error of two percentage points.
America’s top infectious disease official, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said he expects millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccines to be available early next year.
More than 160,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, including over 32,000 confirmed and probable fatalities in New York state.