- More adults in the U.S. are expressing doubts about the safety of a newly licensed COVID-19 vaccine that might become available this year.
- The number of poll respondents planning on getting a new coronavirus vaccine as soon as it is FDA approved has fallen from a reported high of 50 to 60 percent down to 21 percent currently.
- Reduced trust in the fast-tracked vaccine process mirrors generally reduced trust in COVID-19 information being disseminated by public health officials and mainstream media.
As medical doctors and government health officials warn that there can be no return to normal until we have an effective COVID-19 vaccine that everyone uses, more and more Americans are expressing skepticism about accepting a newly licensed coronavirus vaccine that has been rushed through the approval process. In a poll of 2,493 registered U.S. voters across the country conducted on behalf of CBS News, only 21 percent of voters are still saying they would get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as one becomes available, even if it is free.1
That same poll showed that two thirds of voters say they would not consider a vaccine made available this year as a scientific breakthrough (65 percent) but rather as one that had been “rushed through without enough testing” (35 percent). Among those who feel the vaccine testing has been rushed, only 13 percent say they would get the vaccine as soon as it was available.
Decreasing Trust in Fast-Tracked Vaccine Safety
The number of Americans willing to get a new vaccine against COVID-19 has been falling since polling began. In April/May, a poll of 1,056 adults conducted by the Associated Press’s NORC Center for Public Affairs Research showed that 49 percent said they planned to get vaccinated as soon as a vaccine was licensed, 20 percent said they would not get the new vaccine and 31 percent were unsure.2 Morning Consult poll numbers from May showed an even higher number of respondents planning to get a new vaccine: 59 percent among 2,200 surveys of U.S. adults, with 14 percent saying they would not want the vaccine and 22 percent unsure.3 4
By late July, polls showed the number of people who would accept a newly licensed COVID-19 vaccine had dropped to 32 percent, with 17 percent against taking any coronavirus vaccine approved this year and 51 percent taking a “wait and see” stance.5 Most of those who have expressed reluctance about getting a new COVID-19 vaccine are concerned about safety and side effects, while others are uncertain a vaccine would be effective in protecting them from the mutated coronavirus.6
Polls results seem to indicate that there are divisions within political parties, with more registered Democrats viewing a new vaccine as being inappropriately rushed to market (77 percent) rather than a scientific achievement (23 percent) compared to Republicans (48 and 52 percent, respectively). Though more Republicans than Democrats plan to get the vaccine if one becomes available, most plan to wait or forego the vaccine altogether.7
Trust in Public Health Information Also on the Decline
That same CBS poll shows that voters as a whole have less trust in the coronavirus information provided by public health authorities, such as officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the President of the United States, state governors and the national media, compared to opinions reported earlier in the pandemic.8 Most dramatically, trust in the CDC to provide accurate information about COVID-19 has fallen from a high of 86 percent in March to 54 percent today.9
Also since March, trust in information provided by the national media has fallen from 45 percent to 35 percent currently. Trust in information disseminated by state governors has also fallen by 14 percentage points.10
Regardless of party, the majority of voters—65 percent of Republicans, 84 percent of Democrats and 76 percent of Independents—agree that whomever is elected president should publicly be vaccinated to demonstrate confidence in the safety of a new COVID-19 vaccine recommended by the government.11
1 De Pinto J. Voters Skeptical About Potential COVID-19 Vaccine And Say That One This Year Would Be Rushed – CBS News Poll. CBS News Sept. 6, 2020.
2 Neergaard L, Fingerhut H. Expectations for a COVID-19 Vaccine. Associated Press–NORC Center for Public Affairs Research May 27, 2020.
3 Just Over Half of Americans Say They Would Get Vaccinated if One Became Available. Morning Consult.
4 Solender A. Many Americans Say They Would Refuse A Coronavirus Vaccine. Forbes May 8, 2020.
5 See Footnote 1.
6 TVR Staff. Poll: 69 Percent of Americans Worried Fast-Tracked COVID-19 Vaccines Won’t Be Safe. The Vaccine Reaction. Aug. 10, 2020.
7 See Footnote 1.
10 Meek A. Guess Who Americans Trust More On COVID-19 – Trump Or The National Press? BGR Sept.8, 2020.
11 See Footnote 1.