Seven in 10 Americans willing to get COVID-19 vaccine, survey finds

September 10, 2020

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Almost seven in 10 Americans would be interested in receiving a COVID-19 vaccine when one becomes available, according to a new study. But researchers say there are concerning gaps in interest, particularly among Black Americans, who suffer disproportionately from the virus.

Researchers from The Ohio State University surveyed more than 2,000 Americans in May, asking them about their willingness to be vaccinated and 11 factors that could influence that decision. They found that 1,374 out of 2006 people in the survey, 69%, said they would "definitely" or "probably" get a vaccine. The survey found that 17% were "not sure" and 14% were "probably or "definitely" not willing.

The study, one of the first estimates of COVID-19 vaccine acceptance in the U.S., appears online in the journal Vaccine.

Lead researcher Paul Reiter, an associate professor of health behavior and health promotion, said he suspected there would be higher-than-normal interest in this vaccine, considering the nature of the pandemic and the severity of illness many people have experienced.

"The interest here is higher than what we typically see for flu vaccine and other vaccines where there is a strong public health need for widespread protection," he said.

The strongest predictors of whether someone said they'd accept a vaccine were how well the vaccine works and whether their health care provider would recommend it. Individuals' perceived personal health threat from COVID-19 also played strongly into their willingness to be vaccinated, the researchers found.

"That aligns with what we see in public health in a variety of areas -- if someone perceives themselves to be at a higher risk of a health issue, that's going to make them more likely to engage in the health behavior, in this case vaccination," Reiter said.

One of the more unexpected findings in this study - and something that isn't typical of public health research - is the correlation between political affiliation and willingness to adopt a public health intervention, Reiter said. Respondents who identified as liberal or moderate were significantly more likely to accept a vaccine.

"COVID-19 has turned into a political issue in many cases, and I think that some people just pick their side based on that, without much research," he said. "We've seen that with mask wearing. It's a promising public health intervention, but it's turned into a political powder keg."

The most worrisome finding was among Black survey respondents, as only 55% said they were willing to get a vaccine.

"Given the disproportionate burden of COVID-19 infection and death among Black Americans, it's concerning to see that Black survey participants had less interest in a vaccine," Reiter said.

"I think there are likely several factors at play, including access to care and trust in health care and potential socioeconomic barriers."

Reducing such barriers is important since only 35% of participants in the study would pay $50 or more out-of-pocket for a COVID-19 vaccine, Reiter said.

As of the first week of September, 10 states had indicated plans to offer free vaccines when they become available, according to KFF (formerly known as the Kaiser Family Foundation.)

Reiter said public health leaders and policymakers can look to this study as they shape efforts to communicate the benefits (and any risks) of a COVID-19 vaccine, once one is approved for general use.

"You hear a lot of talk of vaccination and the benefits of herd immunity, the idea that when enough people have resistance to a virus it reduces the threat to the entire population. At 70%, we may or may not get there," Reiter said.

That makes it especially important to work toward educational efforts, the elimination of obstacles and other strategies to increase the chances of vaccination among those who face increased risks of severe illness or death. If the vaccine against COVID-19 requires more than one dose, it will present even more challenges, he said -- a reality that has been made clear in recent years with efforts to fully vaccinate young people against HPV to help prevent cancer. The HPV vaccine requires at least two doses, and three when given later in the teen years.

Though the survey was conducted four months ago, Reiter said he doesn't expect much has changed in terms of public perception.

"As we get closer to a vaccine becoming available, factors that could further affect the public's interest will include cost and the number of doses required," he said.
-end-
Other Ohio State researchers who worked on the study are Mira Katz and Michael Pennell.

The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences provided funding for the research.

Ohio State University

Related Public Health Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 and the decolonization of Indigenous public health
Indigenous self-determination, leadership and knowledge have helped protect Indigenous communities in Canada during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and these principles should be incorporated into public health in future, argue the authors of a commentary in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) http://www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.200852.

Public health consequences of policing homelessness
In a new study examining homelessness, researchers find that policy such a lifestyle has massive public health implications, making sleeping on the street even MORE unhealthy.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic likely to cause long-term health problems, Yale School of Public Health finds
The coronavirus pandemic's life-altering effects are likely to result in lasting physical and mental health consequences for many people--particularly those from vulnerable populations--a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health finds.

The Lancet Public Health: US modelling study estimates impact of school closures for COVID-19 on US health-care workforce and associated mortality
US policymakers considering physical distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 face a difficult trade-off between closing schools to reduce transmission and new cases, and potential health-care worker absenteeism due to additional childcare needs that could ultimately increase mortality from COVID-19, according to new modelling research published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Access to identification documents reflecting gender identity may improve trans mental health
Results from a survey of over 20,000 American trans adults suggest that having access to identification documents which reflect their identified gender helps to improve their mental health and may reduce suicidal thoughts, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Study estimates mental health impact of welfare reform, Universal Credit, in Great Britain
The 2013 Universal Credit welfare reform appears to have led to an increase in the prevalence of psychological distress among unemployed recipients, according to a nationally representative study following more than 52,000 working-age individuals from England, Wales, and Scotland over nine years between 2009-2018, published as part of an issue of The Lancet Public Health journal on income and health.

BU researchers: Pornography is not a 'public health crisis'
Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) have written an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health special February issue arguing against the claim that pornography is a public health crisis, and explaining why such a claim actually endangers the health of the public.

The Lancet Public Health: Ageism linked to poorer health in older people in England
Ageism may be linked with poorer health in older people in England, according to an observational study of over 7,500 people aged over 50 published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

Study: Public transportation use linked to better public health
Promoting robust public transportation systems may come with a bonus for public health -- lower obesity rates.

Read More: Public Health News and Public Health Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.