A different vaccine anxiety: wondering when a wanted injection will come

February 19, 2021, 2:15 PM UTC

Vaccine anxiety comes in two forms – the 26% of the public in this week’s Economist/YouGov poll who say they will not get a COVID-19 vaccine (with many uncertain), as well as those who want the injection and aren’t sure when they will be able to get one.  

One in ten adults in the poll have received at least one vaccine dose, with that figure jumping to 26% of all those 65 and older. That is an increase of six points among senior citizens since last week’s poll. 

But the poll also highlights groups where few have received vaccinations against COVID-19, and many plan to reject the offer. Few Black Americans say they have been vaccinated (4%) and while 34% say they would accept the shot, just as many (33%) plan to reject it. 

Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say they will turn down their vaccination, possibly because they are not yet convinced that COVID-19 is a dangerous virus. Republicans have consistently expressed less concern about possible infection. This week, only 42% of Republicans report being even “somewhat” worried about contracting COVID-19, 37 points lower than the 79% of Democrats who are worried. 

This reduced rate of fear coincides with the fact that Republicans have been less affected by the pandemic. Fewer report being laid off from work because of the virus (7% of Republicans and 15% of Democrats say this) or knowing someone who has died from it (24% of Republicans and 34% of Democrats say this).  

Those reasons don’t explain Black hesitancy. Half of Black Americans have a close friend or family member who has tested positive for COVID-19, and 16% have themselves been laid off. 

The pace of the vaccine rollout is still seen as too slow... 

Many Americans who are looking forward to being vaccinated aren’t sure when that will happen and see the rollout of the vaccines as just too slow. Overall, nearly half say the rollout has been too slow, though that percentage has declined in the last week. Two-thirds of Americans who want the vaccine are concerned that the rollout is moving too slowly. 

While most older Americans are concerned about the slow speed of distribution, they are also the ones being vaccinated, so their level of concern about the speed of vaccine distribution has dropped dramatically in the last week, from 75% to 58%.  

...but confidence there will be enough vaccines to go around is rising 

The speed of vaccine distribution may not be a matter of supply. Belief that there is enough vaccine to vaccinate everyone who wants an injection is rising, from 40% last week to 47% this week. Nearly two-thirds of those who want to be vaccinated see enough supply at hand.   

But many expect to wait until at least the summer. About half (47%) of those who want to be vaccinated say they will have to wait until at least then (just a third think they will be vaccinated before then). Older adults are much more optimistic. Close to three quarters (72%) of those 65 and older who have not been vaccinated yet expect to be vaccinated before the end of spring – with more than a third saying it will happen before the end of February. Americans are generally satisfied with the priorities set for vaccine distribution, and two-thirds of those 65 and older believe they should get priority.   

While more than a third remain uneasy with the Biden Administration’s ability to distribute the vaccine, President Biden gets positive reviews for his handling of the outbreak: 53% approve, 32% do not. Two-thirds approve of his relief bill in general, and support for some of the bill’s components are higher still: 78% support a $160 billion vaccine program and 79% back $1,400 relief checks for qualifying households.   

Related: Biden gets positive marks for COVID-19 handling, but getting vaccines remains a problem 

See the toplines and crosstabs from this Economist/YouGov poll 

Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 US Adult Citizens interviewed online between February 13 - 16, 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 2.9% for the overall sample 

Image: Getty