More Americans are willing to get a covid-19 vaccine, new polling suggests. According to a survey run by the Kaiser Family Foundation, Americans are more likely to have been vaccinated or to want vaccination in February than they were a month ago, while the percentage of people who want to wait and see has declined as well.
The KFF’s COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor has been tracking people’s enthusiasm for a covid-19 vaccine since last December, via a nationally representative survey conducted by phone. This last poll involved over 1,800 adults interviewed between February 15-23, 2021.
For the first time in their poll, a slight majority of Americans (55%) have either gotten at least one dose of the vaccine (18%) or are looking to get it as soon as possible (37%). That’s up from the 47% and 34% who said the same in January and December, respectively. The percentage of people who are waiting for others to take it before making a decision has also shrunk, from 31% in January to 22% in February.
The positive numbers are all the more encouraging in light of the steadily improving vaccine rollout in the U.S. As of Friday, 47.2 million Americans have received at least one dose of the Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines, while 22 million have been fully vaccinated with two doses. And vaccine access is set to get even easier soon.
This weekend, the Food and Drug Administration is expected to grant the emergency use authorization of the one-dose vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson, making it the third available to the U.S. public. Once authorized, the company has pledged to ship nearly 4 million doses immediately for distribution, along with 20 million doses total by the end of March. Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech have promised that they would produce a combined 220 million doses by the end of next month.
J&J’s more convenient vaccine might get at least some people more comfortable about vaccination. Of the people who still wanted to wait and see, 26% said that they would be more willing to get a vaccine if it only required one dose. Other concerns cited by this group included potentially serious side effects or the worry that the vaccine would give them covid-19. Real-world data continues to support the safety and efficacy of both mRNA vaccines, however, and none of the vaccines available are able to give people covid-19, since they don’t contain the actual coronavirus.
Enthusiasm for the vaccine increased across all demographics, but Black and Hispanic Americans were still more likely to express caution about vaccination. They were also more likely to worry about potential problems like not being able to afford the vaccine or to get it from a source they trust and to be concerned about not having the vaccine tested enough in their specific demographic. Public health experts have continued to stress the importance of building trust among these communities and to correct misinformation whenever possible. For instance, all covid-19 vaccines will be available free of charge.
There remains a small minority of Americans who will be harder to budge on their vaccine hesitancy. About 15% in the poll said they would “definitely not” get vaccinated, while another 7% said they would only get a vaccine if it was required for work, school, or other activities—numbers that haven’t changed much since December.
These vaccines are poised to turn the tide against the pandemic and drive down deaths, hospitalizations, and new cases, and it seems there are plenty of people who are willing to take advantage of them as they become available.