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We’ve seen promising news in recent days about potential COVID-19 vaccines. The national conversation is turning from “When will there be a vaccine?” to “How do we distribute it?” But an equally important question is—will Americans actually get vaccinated once they can?

The answer is complicated. In May 2020, 72% of U.S. adults who responded to a Pew Research Center survey said they would get a COVID-19 vaccine immediately. But by September, just 51% said they would get a vaccine right away. Other recent polls have suggested that the numbers are climbing closer to 60%. 

But new interim data from an Evidation Health study currently in progress suggest that Americans are more hesitant to get vaccinated for COVID-19 than even these figures suggest.

As part of an ongoing, multi-part research study on vaccine sentiment and COVID-19, Evidation collected responses from approximately 64,750 individuals, who completed a baseline demographic survey and a follow-up survey about their behavior, feelings, and perceptions related to a COVID-19 vaccine between October 9, 2020, and November 11, 2020.  Participants represented all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

Questions covered vaccination plans, motivators and barriers, information sources, and vaccine acceptance. Among the top findings:

  • More than 60% of respondents said they would feel uncomfortable getting a COVID-19 vaccine immediately. 
  • Hesitancy towards getting a COVID-19 vaccine does not appear to be tied to overall sentiment related to vaccines. Over 60% of respondents reported feeling more hesitant about a COVID-19 vaccine than other vaccines. Additionally, when asked about their feelings toward vaccines in general, the mean among respondents was a score of 7.23 on a scale from 0: “strongly against vaccination” to 10: “strongly in favor of vaccination.” 
  • Approximately 75% of participants with children were either unsure about whether to get their children vaccinated, or planned not to do so.
  • Respondents cited safety as the most common reason they are concerned about a COVID-19 vaccine. This includes concerns that a COVID-19 vaccine will not be safe, that it will have side effects, or that it is being approved too quickly.
  • Many people do not feel informed about the COVID-19 vaccine, with over 30% reporting they feel “not at all” or “slightly” informed.
  • However, those who reported being moderately informed or better had a higher self-reported likelihood of getting the COVID-19 vaccine, suggesting the opportunity to make individuals more comfortable with the vaccine through improved understanding among the general public.

Responses were collected through Evidation’s privacy-first, direct-to-person research platform, Achievement, a network of more than 4 million individuals nationwide. Achievement rewards users for taking healthy actions and offers the chance to participate in research studies and surveys. Achievement, which generates data with unprecedented speed, scale, and rigor, uses a consent per use model – participants provide consent for each study or survey in which they participate.

A note on weighted data: We weighted our data based on U.S. census numbers for age, race, ethnicity, and sex. These weights allow us to adjust our results to see what they might have looked like given a demographic spread that more closely matches that of the U.S. population. Reweighting is a great method to hypothesize about how our dataset would have looked if our demographics more closely matched that of the United States, but it is not equivalent to surveying those demographics. Specifically, reweighting a particular demographic group cannot represent the breadth of experiences that surveying more people from that group would provide.

Further reading

Aug 08 2019

Chan R, Jankovic F, Marinsek N, Foschini L, Kourtis L, Signorini A, Pugh M, Shen J, Yaari R, Maljkovic V, Sunga M, Hee Song H, Joon Jung H, Tseng B, Trister A

Source: KDD 2019