By Dr. NICHOLAS NISSEN, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — Americans may be more willing than ever to get their COVID-19 shot, according to a new survey from Gallup. Since Gallup first began polling Americans on their willingness in July 2020, there was an initial decline in willingness to get a COVID-19 vaccine, reaching a low of 50% in September. Since then, there has been a steady climb to 65% willing in late December, and now, an all-time high of 71% who are willing to get vaccinated.
“This makes sense,” said Dr. John Brownstein, an epidemiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital and ABC News contributor. “As these vaccines have more time on the market, you personally know people that have had it, and that social network will lend itself to creating a snowball effect of more people willing to get the vaccine.”
Of the 71% willing to get vaccinated, 9% have already received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and the additional 62% stated they would be willing to get the vaccine if it were available to them at no cost.
Food and Drug Administration-authorized COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna are being rolled out across the nation, with more than 43 million doses of the vaccines delivered, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
With more than 20 million doses each of Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna’s vaccines delivered and a new possible emergency use authorization of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine later this month, it is expected that the rate of vaccination across the nation will continue to climb.
“The Johnson & Johnson vaccine can play a strong role for a variety of reasons,” Brownstein said. “One, in terms of increasing access to another vaccine option, and two, in being a single-dose vaccine.”
According to the recent Gallup poll, the rate of willingness to get the vaccine increased in both Democrats and Republicans with 91% of Democrats (compared to 83% in December) and 51% of Republicans (compared to 45% in December) willing to get vaccinated. What has remained consistent is the higher rate of willingness to get the vaccine in those with higher incomes and a higher level of education.
Nevertheless, there are still some who would choose to pass on the vaccine. In this group, the most common reasons cited were concerns about the safety of the vaccine as well as a general distrust of vaccines.
These concerns were accompanied by a general sense of dissatisfaction with the vaccine rollout thus far. 66% of Americans are dissatisfied with the vaccine rollout, with 21% stating they have been “very dissatisfied.” This level of dissatisfaction is higher in Democrats (79% dissatisfied) than Republicans (of whom 51% were dissatisfied).
Despite the dissatisfaction, most Americans are eagerly awaiting their turn to get vaccinated. President Joe Biden acknowledged the challenge facing his administration to meet this demand in his interview on CBS evening news on Super Bowl Sunday.
“We’ve ramped up every way we can,” Biden said. “We’re pushing as hard as we can to get more vaccines manufactured.”
Nevertheless, the prospect of getting America to herd immunity before the end of this summer “is very difficult,” Biden said.
Whereas previous polls suggested that the major hurdle to herd immunity would be Americans’ willingness to participate in vaccination, it is now appearing that the major challenge will be manufacturing and delivering the doses to the masses before America faces additional waves of the deadly virus.
Nicholas Nissen, M.D., is a clinical fellow and resident physician at Harvard Medical School and an ABC News Medical Unit Doctor.
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