Worry about COVID-19 infection drives desire for the vaccine

February 24, 2021, 8:00 PM UTC

One in eight Americans (12%) in the latest Economist/YouGov poll say they have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccination. For them, and for those who say they are willing to be vaccinated when it becomes available to them (39%), fear of the virus makes a difference.

Many of those who have received the vaccine are still concerned (65%) about the prospect of contracting COVID-19. One-third (32%) of those who do not plan to get vaccinated are worried about catching the virus.

Three-quarters of those who plan on getting vaccinated (75%) think it will have happened for them by the end of the summer. Yet-to-be-vaccinated senior citizens expect to receive their injections even sooner: 70% by the end of spring.  

Many states have prioritized those 65 and older, though some states are focusing on even older seniors - those 75 and older. Two-thirds of those over 65 (66%) believe they should get priority, while one in five (21%) adults under 30 want priority for themselves. As the pace of injections speed up, the American public has improved its assessment of the speed of vaccine distribution. This week less than half say it has been too slow (46%), down nine points from a week ago (55%) The share of those 65 and older saying distribution has been too slow dropped 15-points in the last week (75% to 60%). 

Who are the Americans who won’t get vaccinated? 

A large number of Americans still say they won’t be vaccinated (27%) or aren’t sure what they will do (22%). Americans who reject the vaccine tend to be under the age of 65 (more than two-thirds of senior citizens are already vaccinated or expect to be) and are more than three times as likely to be Republicans (35%) as Democrats (11%).  

Those who will not get vaccinated are also less likely to know someone who tested positive for the virus and are much less likely to take those actions that might prevent infection: 

  1. Only half have a close friend or family member who has tested positive for the virus, compared to 61% overall.  

  1. One in five (19%) have a close friend or family member who has died from COVID-19, eight points lower than the country overall (27%).  

  1. One in six Americans (16%) who reject getting the vaccine never wear a facemask when they leave their home compared to 6% of adults overall who don’t wear masks.  

  1. Just 38% always wear a face mask, compared with 61% of the public overall. 

Related: Ted Cruz favorability rating takes a hit among Republicans after he left Texas for Cancún

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 19 - 22, 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 2.7% for the overall sample 

Image: Getty