Fast-tracking a vaccine: How comfortable are Americans?

September 03, 2020, 6:07 PM UTC

Fast tracking vaccines to fight COVID-19, something the federal government has promised, may not be viewed as a good thing by many Americans. 

According to the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, Americans want to have a safe and effective vaccine before getting vaccinated themselves. One issue with accepting a vaccine may be the government’s attempts to fast-track the process. More than eight in 10 Americans (85%) believe a vaccine needs to be proven both safe and effective before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gives its approval for its use. Consequently, nearly as many people disapprove of fast-tracking vaccine development as approve of it. Three-quarters express concern about the safety of a fast-tracked vaccine. 

Fast-tracking chart FDA more than one in four in the say they won’t be vaccinated while less than half say they will.  

Nearly a third of the public aren’t sure they will get vaccinated, should a covid-19 vaccine become available. Differences are partisan: most Democrats (53%), but only a third of Republicans (32%) will get the COVID-19 shot. Only 22 percent of Black Americans say they will be vaccinated; nearly twice as many (42%) aren’t sure. This concern makes a difference in whether Americans are willing to be vaccinated. Only one in four of those who are very concerned about a fast-tracked vaccine’s safety say they will be vaccinated. A majority of those who approve of the fast-track process will be vaccinated; only a third of those who don’t think there should be a fast track will.  

Should a vaccination be mandatory? Americans want to keep the process voluntary, though Democrats are more willing to say vaccinations should be required.  

Supportersof President Donald Trump are especially opposed to mandatory vaccination, three times as many Trump voters oppose (64%) mandatory vaccinations as support (20%) them. In Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s camp, 47 percent are in favor of mandatory vaccines, while 29 percent are not. 

See the toplines and crosstabs from this week’s Economist/YouGov Poll 

Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 U.S. adult citizens interviewed online between August 30 - September 1, 2020. 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 3.5% for the overall sample. 

Image: Getty