Why are Americans refusing to get vaccinated?

Linley SandersSenior Data Journalist
February 26, 2021, 5:15 PM UTC

The United States has launched a nationwide effort to vaccinate vulnerable populations against COVID-19 — but many Americans remain doubtful of the vaccine’s quick development.

Half of Americans say they either intend to get vaccinated (37%) or already have been (13%), according to a new CBS News/YouGov poll. But the other half of the country only say “maybe” to getting the vaccine (24%) or flat out say “no” (25%). 

It could be, in time, that many of the reluctant can be convinced to take a vaccine, as most of those who will not or may not get the coronavirus vaccine cite concerns that the immunization is still too untested and say they want to wait and see what happens (58%, representing 28% of all Americans).  

Women who do not plan to get vaccinated (61%) are slightly more worried than men (55%) about the vaccine being too untested. This concern is also more prevalent among 45-to 64-year-old adults (67%) who are unlikely to get the shot. 

Around half of those who do not plan on getting vaccinated (46%, equivalent to 23% of all Americans) are concerned about allergies or side effects, though allergic reactions to the shot are rare

One-third of this group does not trust the government (33%, about 16% of all US adults), with men (41%) being more likely than women (26%) to note this as a concern. About one-quarter of those who will likely skip the vaccine (27%, meaning 13% of all Americans) say they do not trust the scientists and companies who created the immunization. That view is slightly more common among men (30%) than women (24%). 

Around one in five (22%, representing 11% of all Americans) do not generally get vaccinated. One in 14 (7%, about 3% of all Americans) say that their reason for not getting vaccinated stems from having already been infected with COVID-19 and developing a natural immunity.  

See the toplines and crosstabs from this CBS News/YouGov poll 

Related: Americans are still following news about the coronavirus closely 

Methodology: The CBS News survey of 1,500 adult citizens in the U.S. was conducted by YouGov between February 21-24, 2021. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on voter registration lists, the U.S. Census American Community Survey, and the U.S. Census Current Population Survey, as well as 2020 Presidential vote. Respondents were selected to be representative of adult citizens nationwide. The margin of error for the entire sample is 2.7% 

Image: Getty