A quarter of Americans say they have little or no interest in getting vaccinated for the coronavirus, with some voicing concerns about the speedy development process.
While health experts say the development of a vaccine is necessary to return to normal life, a Reuters–Ipsos poll released Thursday suggested a potential trust deficit facing the Trump administration, which has been panned at times for issuing contradictory guidance on how to grapple with the pandemic.
About 36 percent of poll respondents said they would be less willing to take a vaccine if President TrumpDonald TrumpBaldwin calls Trump criticism following 'Rust' shooting 'surreal' Haley hits the stump in South Carolina Mary Trump files to dismiss Trump's lawsuit over NYT tax story MORE said it was safe, while 14 percent said they would be more interested. Most respondents said they would look to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or results of large-scale scientific studies regarding the efficacy and safety of a vaccine.
Fewer than two-thirds of respondents said they were “very” or “somewhat” interested in a vaccine, a figure experts thought would be higher given the seriousness of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S.
“It’s a little lower than I thought it would be with all the attention to COVID-19,” William Schaffner, an infectious disease and vaccine expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., told Reuters. “I would have expected somewhere around 75 percent.”
About 14 percent of those surveyed said they were not at all interested in taking a vaccine, and 10 percent said they were not very interested. Eleven percent were unsure.
The survey indicated that those who were not interested in a vaccine could be persuaded, with 29 percent of those who were “not very” interested saying they would be more convinced if the FDA approved the vaccine.
Experts pointed to the speed at which the vaccine is being developed and widespread misinformation on social media regarding the vaccine as fueling public skepticism.
“It’s not surprising a significant percentage of Americans are not going to take the vaccine because of the terrible messaging we’ve had, the absence of a communication plan around the vaccine and this very aggressive anti-vaccine movement,” Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine who is also developing a potential vaccine, told Reuters.
The poll’s results were sharply divided along party lines, with about 20 percent of Republicans saying they have no interest in a vaccine, more than double the percentage of Democrats who said the same.
Trump has promised that a vaccine would be available by the end of the year, though most health experts do not expect one to be widely released until mid-2021. There are currently more than 100 vaccine candidates in development around the world.
Uncertainty over a vaccine may be fueled by some of the president’s past remarks, such as touting an anti-malaria drug as a treatment despite scientific findings to the contrary and floating the idea of ingesting disinfectants to try to kill the virus.
The Reuters–Ipsos poll surveyed 4,428 U.S. adults from May 13 to 19 and has a credibility interval of 2 percentage points.