The American public’s enthusiasm for taking a coronavirus vaccine has reached a plateau, according to a new nationwide poll, a sign of the tough road ahead for the Biden administration’s vaccination efforts.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Vaccine Monitor, the share of adults who have not yet gotten vaccinated but say they intend to do so as soon as they can has fallen to 9 percent.
At the same time, about 15 percent of respondents fell into the “wait and see” group, which remained about the same in April compared to March. But among Republicans, more than half now say they’ve gotten at least one dose or will do so as soon as they can.
That’s a significant increase from the 46 percent of Republicans who expressed enthusiasm about the vaccines in March. At the same time, the share of Republicans who will “definitely not” get vaccinated decreased from 29 percent in March to 20 percent in April.
The survey also showed limited eagerness for parents to get their children vaccinated, a troubling trend that’s coming just as the Food and Drug Administration is poised to grant authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to be used in adolescents aged 12 to 15.
Among parents who have at least one child between the ages of 12 and 15, 30 percent said they’ll get their child vaccinated right away, 26 percent wanted to wait to see how it’s working, 18 percent said they will vaccinate only if their child’s school requires it and 23 percent said they will definitely not get their child vaccinated.
The responses largely align with the parents’ own enthusiasm about getting the shot.
Among parents who have at least one child ages 16-17, 31 percent said they want to get their child vaccinated right away and 8 percent said their child is already vaccinated, while almost quarter said they will definitely not get them vaccinated.
Overall, about 56 percent of respondents said they had gotten at least one dose of a vaccine, a finding that matches data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But the survey data clearly shows that the U.S. is in a new stage of its fight against COVID-19 and that the goal of herd immunity may not be attainable. The low-hanging fruit, the most enthusiastic people who want a vaccine, is mostly gone, and new strategies to reach the rest of the population will be needed.
To that end, the administration has shifted tactics.
This week, President Biden announced a new focus on smaller clinics rather than mass vaccination sites. Vaccine doses will be sent directly to rural health clinics, and the administration is making hundreds of millions of dollars in funding available to hire “community outreach workers” to help get people vaccinated.
“It’s going to get more granular, I think, rather than large. The likelihood of us being able to get 100,000 vaccinations a week at a major site is getting harder and harder,” Biden said earlier this week.
Another hurdle to people getting vaccinated is access, particularly among Black and Hispanic groups.
More than half of unvaccinated Black adults and almost three-quarters of Hispanic adults are concerned about having to miss work due to vaccine side effects, compared to 4 in 10 white adults.
Larger shares of Black and Hispanic adults compared to white adults also expressed concern about not being able to get the vaccine from a place they trust, having to pay an out-of-pocket cost to get vaccinated or having difficulty traveling to a vaccination site.
Most unvaccinated adults, including a majority of those who say they will get the vaccine as soon as they can, have not yet attempted to make an appointment for a vaccine, despite all adults in the U.S. now being eligible. Many sites are also now allowing walk-ins.
The survey was conducted April 15-29, among 2,097 adults ages 18 and older. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.