We are all looking forward to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic and the disruptions it’s caused in our lives. A safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine will form part of the public health strategy to help us reach this endpoint faster. As many organizations work to develop and release such a vaccine, we wanted to understand people’s evolving perceptions and behaviors related to COVID-19 and vaccinations. We launched the first set of surveys in our study in October, and are excited to share some preliminary results with you!

Objectives

This study’s goal is to describe people’s perceptions and behaviors around the COVID-19 vaccine. For example, what reasons do people have for getting or not getting the COVID-19 vaccine? How likely are they to get it once it’s released? Has the pandemic encouraged people to get the flu shot? This study will investigate whether and how these perceptions and behaviors change over time, as COVID-19 vaccines are developed and released.

Methods

To describe people’s perceptions and behaviors, and how those perceptions and behaviors change over time, we are asking for people’s input through a series of online surveys. These surveys will be sent throughout the development and release of COVID-19 vaccines.

So far, we’ve launched 2 surveys: one to understand the backgrounds of the people participating (for example, their demographics, where they live, whether they’re at risk for COVID-19), and one to characterize current perceptions and behaviors. We have started analyzing the data collected between October 9th, 2020 and November 11th, 2020. We won’t be able to understand how perceptions and behaviors have changed until we launch the next survey, but we can start to describe how people are currently feeling about the COVID-19 vaccine!

Preliminary Results

Here are some preliminary results from our first 2 surveys.

Participants

64,750 people (“participants”) have completed the first perceptions and behaviors survey. Mean age was 38.5 (SD: 11.7 years), and the majority of participants identified as female (79.7%) and identified as white (80.0%).

Participant ages range from 18 to 100+, with a high peak around 30 and a slightly smaller one around 50.

All 50 states (plus Puerto Rico and Washington, DC) are represented:

Vaccination Likelihood, Motivators, and Barriers

On average, participants were on the fence in terms of likelihood of getting the COVID-19 vaccine when it’s released (mean=4.93, median=5). The distribution shows a wide range of opinions, with the largest numbers of people reporting at:

  • 0 (“Very unlikely”): 18.8%
  • 5: 13.6%
  • 10 (“Very likely”): 14.3%
Bar graph: “How likely are you to get a COVID-19 vaccine when it’s released?”, from 0 to 10. Highest at 0, then 10 and 5.

The most common reasons people reported for getting the COVID-19 vaccine were to:

  • help protect their family, friends, or community (59.9%)
  • lower their chances of getting COVID-19 (56.7%)
  • lower their chances of having to go to the doctor or getting hospitalized due to severe COVID-19 symptoms (53.7%)
  • feel more comfortable spending time with their friends, family, or community (55.7%)

The most common reasons people had to not get vaccinated were because they were:

  • concerned the vaccine is being approved too quickly (61.3%)
  • concerned about possible side effects (60.1%)
  • not sure the vaccine will be safe (56.2%)
  • not sure the vaccine will be effective (57.0%)

Relative Vaccination Hesitancy

Most participants reported feeling more hesitant about the COVID-19 vaccine than other vaccines (68.0%), with 24.9% feeling equally hesitant and 7.1% feeling less hesitant:

Bar plot: “Compared to other vaccines, how hesitant do you feel about the COVID-19 vaccine?”. More: 68%, Equal: 25%, Less: 7%

Vaccination Informedness

We’ve also found that people don’t feel particularly well-informed about the COVID-19 vaccine in general. 19.8% of participants report feeling “Not at all informed”, 22.7% “Slightly informed”, 30.4% “Moderately informed”, 19.2% “Informed”, and only 7.9% “Very informed”:

Bar plot: “Overall, how informed do you feel about the COVID-19 vaccine?” 5-pt scale, peaks in the middle, skews uninformed.

Pandemic Influence on Flu Shot Plans and Behavior

The CDC has stressed that getting the flu shot this season is more important than ever, to help protect oneself and others and to minimize burden on the healthcare system. Many participants seem to agree: of the 35,997 participants who had not gotten the flu shot yet (or were unsure), 20.2% reported being more likely to get it this season due to the pandemic:

“How do you think the COVID-19 pandemic has influenced your views on getting the flu vaccine this flu season?” 70% unchanged

Of the 28,753 participants who had gotten the flu shot, 20.0% reported that the pandemic encouraged them to get it, and 9.1% reported the pandemic was the primary reason they did so:

“How do you think the COVID-19 pandemic influenced your decision to get the flu vaccine?”: Unchanged 70%, discouraged <1%

We are excited to continue to investigate these current perceptions and behaviors and see how they change over the coming months!

Next Steps

To understand how people’s perceptions and behaviors related to COVID-19 vaccination evolve over the development and release of vaccines, we will send more surveys over the following months asking for Achievement member’s perceptions and behaviors. These surveys will be sent as big events happen around the vaccine’s development, like its approval or release. The exact dates of these future surveys will depend on when these events happen, so stay tuned for more!

We could not conduct this research without our community of Achievers, so thank you again to everyone who participated!

If you would like to participate in future surveys in this study, sign up for Achievement.

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