Seven of 10 Americans Say They’re Willing to Get COVID-19 Vaccine

Your doctor's opinion and politics matter.

Florida Volunteers Take Part In COVID-19 Vaccine Trials
A volunteer takes part in a COVID-19 vaccine trial in Florida. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

More than two-thirds of Americans say they’d be interested in getting a vaccine for COVID-19 when one becomes available, according to a new study.

Researchers surveyed more than 2,000 adult Americans in an online questionnaire in May, asking them about their willingness to be vaccinated. They answered many questions, including about their knowledge of the virus and the impact it has had on their life. 

The survey found that 69% said they would “definitely” or “probably” get a vaccine when it’s available. Researchers found that 17% were “not sure” and 14% were either “probably” or “definitely” not willing to get vaccinated.

The study appears online in the journal Vaccine.

Lead researcher Paul Reiter, an associate professor of health behavior and health promotion at Ohio State University, said he expected higher-than-normal interest in the vaccine because of the pandemic.

“The interest here is higher than what we typically see for flu vaccine and other vaccines where there is a strong public health need for widespread protection,” he said in a statement.

Survey respondents were asked about various factors from age and race to potential side effects and whether that would influence their decision to get the vaccine. Researchers found that people were more likely to be willing to get vaccinated if they thought their doctor would recommend it and if the vaccine was believed to be effective. Their perceived personal health threat from the virus also made an impact on their decision.

“That aligns with what we see in public health in a variety of areas — if someone perceives themselves to be at a higher risk of a health issue, that’s going to make them more likely to engage in the health behavior, in this case vaccination,” Reiter said.

People who were politically moderate or liberal were also more likely to be willing to get the vaccine.

People were less likely to be willing to get vaccinated if they were non-Latinx Black or reported a higher level of perceived potential harm from vaccines.

Reiter said the most distressing finding was that among Black respondents, only 55% said they were willing to get vaccinated.

“Given the disproportionate burden of COVID-19 infection and death among Black Americans, it’s concerning to see that Black survey participants had less interest in a vaccine,” Reiter said. “I think there are likely several factors at play, including access to care and trust in health care and potential socioeconomic barriers.”

Those barriers could definitely come into play as only about a third of participants said they would pay $50 or more out-of-pocket for a vaccine.

As of mid-September, there are nine vaccines in large-scale phase three trials, according to the New York Times coronavirus vaccine tracker. This is when researchers give the vaccine to thousands of people to see how many people become infected, versus those given a placebo. They also look for side effects. In early September, AstraZeneca halted global trials of its phase three trials after a participant developed a form of inflammation called transverse myelitis. (As of mid-September, the British trial had restarted, but trials in other countries are still on hold.)

Though the Ohio State vaccine survey was conducted in May, Reiter said he doesn’t believe much has changed.

“As we get closer to a vaccine becoming available, factors that could further affect the public’s interest will include cost and the number of doses required,” he said.