Approximately a third of Americans say that they are unlikely to receive the coronavirus vaccine due to perceived safety concerns, according to an Associated Press poll released Wednesday.
While 67% of Americans said that they either planned to receive the vaccine or had already done so, 17% said that they were unlikely to receive it and 15% said that they were definitely not going to receive it, the poll showed. Among those who expressed vaccine hesitancy, the majority cited concerns over possible side effects and doubts over whether it was really safe, and nearly 40% said that they did not believe that they needed a vaccine.
Vaccine hesitancy was highest among younger Americans, Republicans and Americans without college degrees, the poll showed. Similar polls have also shown greater vaccine hesitancy rates among Americans of color, especially black Americans.
The uncertainty from millions of Americans persists despite few reports of serious side effects or reactions to the vaccine and repeated assurance from top health experts that they are safe to receive. So far, over 43 million shots have been administered and 10% of Americans have received at least one dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading epidemiologist and a top advisor to President Joe Biden, said at least 70% of residents inside the U.S. need to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity and stop the spread of the coronavirus. If that goal is met, he predicted that the nation could return to normalcy by the “summer or early fall” of 2021.
But Fauci recently warned that the multiple new virus variants make it even more imperative that Americans get vaccinated as soon as possible.
“[The vaccine] covers not only the wild type and currently circulating virus, but also the variants,” he said on Monday.
Americans have so far relied on vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, which were both over 90% effective in protecting from the virus and approved for emergency use by the FDA in December. Johnson & Johnson also filed for authorization for its one-dose vaccine last week, and if approved it could dramatically increase the country’s supply and further accelerate the rate at which Americans get vaccinated.