WASHINGTON, D.C. (Dec. 03, 2020) – As vaccines for the coronavirus enter review for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 60% of Americans say they would definitely or probably get a vaccine for the coronavirus if one were available today, up from 51% who said this in September, according to a new Pew Research Center report. About four-in-ten (39%) say they definitely or probably would not get a coronavirus vaccine, though about half in this group – or 18% of U.S. adults – say it’s possible they would decide to get vaccinated once people start getting a vaccine and more information becomes available. Overall, 21% of U.S. adults do not intend to get vaccinated and are ‘pretty certain’ more information will not change their mind.
Additionally, public confidence has grown that the research and development process will yield a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19: 75% have at least a fair amount of confidence in the development process today, compared with 65% who said this in September. At the same time, there’s considerable wariness about being among the first to get a vaccine: 62% of Americans say they would be uncomfortable doing this. Just 37% would be comfortable.
The new report, based on a survey of 12,648 U.S. adults using the Center’s American Trends Panel, finds that amid a rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. the public’s outlook for the country has darkened: 71% say they think the worst of the outbreak is still to come, up from 59% who said this in June. And while the public continues to give hospitals and medical centers high marks for how they’ve responded to the outbreak, about half of Americans (52%) think hospitals in their area will struggle to handle the number of people seeking treatment for the coronavirus in the coming months.
The toll of the pandemic is starkly illustrated by the 54% of Americans who say they know someone personally who has been hospitalized or died due to the coronavirus. Among Black Americans, 71% know someone who has been hospitalized or died because of COVID-19.
The survey sheds light on the complex and interrelated factors that shape intent to get a vaccine for COVID-19, chief among them are:
|•||Personal concern about getting a case of COVID-19 that would require hospitalization. Those most concered about getting a serious case of the coronavirus indicate a higher likelihood of getting a vaccine. Those who see little personal need by this metric are closely divided over whether they would get vaccinated.|
|•||Trust in the vaccine development process. Expressing confidence that the research and development process will yield a safe and effective vaccine is tied to higher levels of intent to get vaccinated.|
|•||Personal practices when it comes to other vaccines. Those who say they get a flu shot yearly are much more likely than those who rarely or never do to say they would get a vaccine for the coronavirus if one were available|
Partisanship plays a role in many of these beliefs and practices. Overall, there’s a 19-point gap between the shares of Democrats and those who lean to the Democratic Party (69%) and Republicans and Republican leaners (50%) who currently say they would get vaccinated for the coronavirus.
Other key findings include:
|•||Most are ‘bothered’ when people around them in public do not wear masks; few are bothered by stores that require face-coverings. About seven-in-ten (72%) say it bothers them a lot or some when people around them in public do not wear masks. Far fewer (28%) say it bothers them at least some when stores require customers to wear a mask for service.|
|•||Americans comfortable going to the grocery but not a crowded party. Three-quarters of adults say they’re comfortable going to the grocery store, given the current situation with the coronavirus but views are more mixed when it comes to a restaurant or hair salon and most would be uncomfortable attending a crowded party. One key factor tied to people’s comfort level is a personal concern with contracting a serious case of COVID-19: Those most concerned are the least comfortable going out.|
|•||Republicans remain less likely than Democrats to see outbreak as major threat to public health. Overall, 84% of Democrats and 43% of Republicans say the coronavirus outbreak is a major threat to the U.S. population as a whole. The partisan gap on this measure remains about as wide as at any point during the outbreak and stands in contrast to the large shares of both Republicans (83%) and Democrats (86%) who say the outbreak is a major threat to the U.S. economy.|
|•||Confidence in scientists remains slightly higher than before the pandemic. With scientists and their work in the spotlight, 39% of Americans say they have a great deal of confidence in scientists to act in the public’s best interest, an uptick from 35% who said this before the pandemic took hold. Most Americans have at least a fair amount of confidence in scientists. However, ratings of scientists are now more partisan than at any point since Pew Research Center first asked this question in 2016: 55% of Democrats now say they have a great deal of confidence in scientists, compared with just 22% of Republicans who say the same.|
These are among the findings from the new report, which is based on a survey of 12,648 U.S. adults conducted online Nov. 18 to Nov. 29, 2020. The margin of error for the full sample is plus or minues 1.5 percentage points.