Healthcare

Poll: Most Americans wouldn’t take a COVID-19 vaccine before the election

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A majority of Americans are concerned that a COVID-19 vaccine will be rushed to the market before it’s ready because of political pressure from the Trump administration, according to a new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF).

Even if a vaccine is available before Election Day, 54 percent of respondents said they wouldn’t take it.

The survey, released Thursday, found 62 percent of respondents said they were concerned about a vaccine being authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before it is proven to be safe and effective. That number included 85 percent of Democrats, 61 percent of independents and 35 percent of Republicans.

If a vaccine were approved before Nov. 3 and made freely available to anyone who wanted it, about half of all respondents said they would not want to get vaccinated.

According to the poll, 56 percent of independents and 60 percent of Republicans said they would not get the vaccine, while 50 percent of Democrats said they would.

However, 81 percent respondents said they don’t believe a coronavirus vaccine would be available before the election.

The numbers highlight a growing problem for health officials. A safe and effective vaccine is the only thing that will end the coronavirus pandemic, but political influence could lead to skepticism among many Americans.

“Public skepticism about the FDA and the process of approving a vaccine is eroding public confidence even before a vaccine gets to the starting gate,” KFF President and CEO Drew Altman said in a statement.

President Trump has been ramping up pressure on the FDA. He tweeted last month that the “deep state” at the agency was slowing down work on vaccines and treatments until after the election.

Just days later, the agency announced an emergency use authorization for convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19 patients, reversing an earlier decision that there wasn’t enough evidence that it worked.

Health experts say they are unnerved by the pressure put on federal officials and worry it will contribute to public distrust in the health system and lead people to not feel confident about a vaccine.

The KFF poll also found declining trust in public health institutions and officials to provide reliable information about coronavirus, particularly among Republicans.

According to the survey, about two in three adults said they have at least a “fair amount” of trust in Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

About 67 percent said they have the same level of trust in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while 53 percent said they trust Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force.

On party lines, 86 percent of Democrats trusted Fauci to provide reliable information about the coronavirus, while just 48 percent of Republicans said the same.

But the overall share who said they trust Fauci has declined by 10 percentage points since April, driven by a 29 point drop among Republicans, as Trump has publicly disagreed with and attacked Fauci.

Fifty-two percent of all respondents said they have a “fair amount” of trust in Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to handle the pandemic, while 40 percent said the same about Trump.

The poll was conducted Aug. 28 through Sept. 3 among 1,199 adults. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the full sample.

Tags Anthony Fauci CDC Coronavirus COVID-19 Deborah Birx Donald Trump FDA Joe Biden Pandemic poll Survey Vaccine White House coronavirus task force

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