Just half of Americans said they would get a coronavirus vaccine even though experts say it may be the only way to end the pandemic, according to a new poll.
About 31% of respondents said they were not sure if they would get the vaccine and roughly 20% said they would refuse the vaccine, according to a poll from the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
About 70% of those who said they would not get vaccinated said they worried about safety.
“I am not an anti-vaxxer,” Melanie Dries, 56, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, told the AP. But, “to get a COVID-19 vaccine within a year or two ... causes me to fear that it won’t be widely tested as to side effects.”
The fastest a vaccine has ever been approved is four years and most take much longer.
Experts worry about Trump effect:
Experts worry that President Trump’s insistence that a vaccine would be ready by the end of the year or by January may scare people off.
“It’s always better to under-promise and over-deliver,” Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told the AP. “The unexpected looms large and that’s why I think for any of these vaccines, we’re going to need a large safety database to provide the reassurance.”
Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, insisted that safety was the top priority.
“I would not want people to think that we’re cutting corners because that would be a big mistake. I think this is an effort to try to achieve efficiencies, but not to sacrifice rigor,” he told the AP. “Definitely the worst thing that could happen is if we rush through a vaccine that turns out to have significant side effects.”
Young people, minorities less likely to be vaccinated:
The poll found that 67% of people over 60 said they would get vaccinated but just 40% of people under 60 said the same.
And though the black and Hispanic communities have been hardest hit by the virus, just 25% of African Americans and 37% of Hispanics said they would get a vaccine, compared to 56% of whites.
“There’s still a large amount of uncertainty around taking the vaccine,” Caitlin Oppenheimer, the head of NORC’s public health research, told the AP. “There is a lot of opportunity to communicate with Americans about the value and the safety of a vaccine.”