The COVID-19 vaccine is finally entering the arms of the first Americans after less than a year of research and development. The amazing feat of medical science signals the beginning of the end for an unprecedented global pandemic that’s killed over 1.6 million people – over 300,000 of whom were Americans – and upended economic structures across the world, leading to millions losing their jobs. Still, the achievement of herd immunity through the vaccine requires trust, and roughly a quarter of U.S. adults say they’ll either definitely or probably not take the vaccine even if it’s free and deemed safe by medical experts. New data shows which groups in the country are more likely to be hesitant on the vaccine.
An update to the Kaiser Family Foundation COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor shows that Republicans and middle-aged Americans are the most likely to currently reject the vaccine. An unsettling 42 percent of Republicans surveyed said they’ll either definitely or probably not take the new coronavirus vaccine, followed closely by 36 percent of those aged 30-49. Thirty-five percent of Black adults and those living in rural areas are also among those mostly likely to be hesitant on the vaccine, with essential workers, healthcare workers and Independents falling just above the total 27 percent of all U.S. adults who are hesitant on the vaccine.
A majority of those hesitant on the coronavirus vaccine are worried about the potential unknown side effects, while many also said they simply don’t trust their governments to make sure the vaccine is safe and effective.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with a large majority of the global medical community, have concluded the available vaccines are safe, highly effective and produce little to no side effects for the vast majority of people. Still, the erosion of trust in government, media and academia that proliferated among communities in the U.S. during 2020 is proving to be a tough challenge in the goal for herd immunity, and shows how misinformation and political rhetoric have real, negligible effects on community health.