President Joe Biden announced in May that he aspired to have 70% of the population receiving at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine by July 4. Will the U.S. meet President Biden’s goal?
According to a recent Economist/YouGov poll, America is not getting more optimistic about reaching this mark, and it is that unvaccinated express the most skepticism about vaccine success. They also provide little hope that incentives or encouraging words – even from those they trust – will change anything. Although 53% overall expect the country to meet the July 4 deadline, just 31% of those not getting vaccinated say that will happen.
In part that’s because most of the more than a quarter of those in this poll who are vaccine-averse or vaccine-hesitant find very little that might convince them to be vaccinated anytime soon.
One big problem is trust in the safety of the available vaccines. Most of those who say they won’t get vaccinated and at least one-quarter of those who aren’t sure about vaccination believe each one of the three vaccines authorized for use on an emergency basis in the U.S. are unsafe. Two-thirds of those who do not intend to get vaccinated (66%) believe the Johnson & Johnson vaccine (distribution of which was temporarily halted after a very few blood clots were found) is not safe, compared to 60% for Moderna and 59% for Pfizer.
Among those who are fully vaccinated, just 2% say the Pfizer vaccine is unsafe, 4% think that about Moderna, and only 13% describe the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as unsafe.
The lack of trust extends to the individuals who are urging vaccination. Only one in ten of those who say they won’t be vaccinated say they trust medical advice from President Biden or from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (one in five of those who aren’t sure about vaccination trust each of those men). Trust in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is higher, though still only a minority in each group trust the CDC.
Even though half of those who say they won’t be vaccinated (52%) trust medical advice from President Trump, that doesn’t mean that his encouragement will get them to accept the vaccine, or even admit they don’t know whether that might change their mind. Just 3% of those who will not get vaccinated say President Trump could alter their stance. Neither will encouragement from their own doctor (2%).
Only 7% of vaccine rejectors say someone close to them getting the virus would change their minds — it makes no difference whether someone has already had a friend or family member contract COVID-19.
Payment of $100 would motivate one in 11 adults who do not have plans to get vaccinated (9%), more than are moved by the chance to win a larger sum in a lottery (5%). Just 6% say that full FDA authorization of the vaccine would change their minds, but an additional 17% say they aren’t sure whether it would make a difference.
Like those who reject the vaccine, most of those who aren’t sure about being vaccinated don’t expect their minds to change with any of the incentives or encouragements. But they are more open to changing their minds than those who outright reject the vaccine. Once again, the full authorization by the FDA (22%) and the direct $100 payment (20%) might be the best motivators, although a chance to win a lottery (15%) or doctor’s encouragement (11%) could make some reconsider.
Full FDA approval could potentially reduce the level of concern about side effects found in these groups. In this poll, more than three in four of the vaccine-hesitant and vaccine-resistant see the possibility of a side effect from the vaccine as a greater threat than contracting COVID-19.
Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 US Adult Citizens interviewed online between June 6 - 8, 2021. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens. The margin of error is approximately 2.8% for the overall sample.