Fewer Americans want COVID-19 vaccines, the study finds

Health experts agree that the best way to end the COVID-19 pandemic is to vaccinate our way out of it. Unfortunately, Americans’ willingness to take a COVID-19 vaccine is declining, even though a punishing wave is claiming more than 1,000 American lives every day.

The latest evidence for this appears in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. This week, and it shows that skepticism about the vaccines is growing among Americans of all stripes.

Regardless of age, race, or gender, American adults were significantly less likely to say that they would be vaccinated in late November and early December than in earlier April. And while interest in COVID-19 vaccines has declined across the board, some groups of Americans are even less willing to be vaccinated than others.

Overall, 74.1% of U.S. adults surveyed between April 1 and April 14 said they were likely to get “some” or “a lot” of a COVID-19 vaccine when it became available. The country confirmed about 550,000 coronavirus infections at the time, and nearly 22,000 people died as a result, according to the World Health Organization.

Fast forward to the end of the year. Between November 25 and December 8, 56.2% of American adults were still planning to be vaccinated when it was their turn. This is despite the fact that more than 14.5 million Americans were infected by the end of the survey period and about 280,000 had died, according to the WHO.

Women take in less vaccination than men. In recent weeks, only 50.6% of them have said they plan to be vaccinated, up from 69.5% in April. Among men, interest in vaccination dropped from 79.1% in the spring to 62.3% eight months later.

In a recent survey, 80.6% of Asian Americans said they would get a COVID-19 vaccine. It sounds like a lot, but it was even higher in April – 90.9%.

No other race or ethnic group is so interested in a COVID-19 vaccine. Only 58.6% of white Americans surveyed in November and December said they would get one (down from 77.8% in April), along with 52.7% of Latinx Americans (down from 73 , 1%) and only 37.6% of black Americans (down from 50.7%).

Enthusiasm for COVID-19 vaccines increases with age – but it also decreases over time. Americans 65 and older remain the largest vaccine for the vaccine, and 69.1% of respondents recently said they would get it. This compares with 57% of people aged 50 to 64 and 50.9% of people aged 18 to 49.

In April, 69.1% were the low end of the spectrum; it was the percentage of 18- to 49-year-olds who said they planned to be vaccinated. 76.7% of the people in the age group 50 to 64 and 83.8% of the citizens joined them.

The study also examined differences associated with the educational background. The authors found that the more time people spend in school, the greater the chance that they will want a vaccine.

In November and December, 70.3% of those who had completed college said they intended to be vaccinated if they could (compared to 85% in April). At the other end of the spectrum, 47.6% of those with a high school diploma or less were planning to be vaccinated (down from 67% in April).

The results are in line with the USC’s Understanding America Study, which has been asking members of a national representative panel every two weeks since March about issues related to COVID-19. Unlike other surveys that measured Americans’ sentiments about COVID-19 vaccines at a single time, these changes have followed in the same group of more than 8,000 people since the early days of the pandemic. (In each two-week period, between 5,259 and 6,139 answered the questions in English or Spanish.)

Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration did not approve any COVID-19 vaccines by the end of the last survey, early results from clinical trials suggested that the vaccine candidates from Pfizer and BioNTech and Moderna were safe and extremely effective.

But even the good news could not be a drop of nearly 18 percentage points in Americans’ willingness to be vaccinated, the authors of the JAMA report lament.

“Educational campaigns to increase the public’s willingness to consider COVID-19 vaccination are necessary,” concluded the team of researchers from USC, UCLA and the Department of Public Health in Los Angeles.

“The likelihood of a COVID-19 vaccine among black individuals and those with a lower educational background getting a COVID-19 vaccine is of particular concern because of their excessively higher burden of COVID-19 disease,” added them.