57% of Those Who Won't Get COVID Vaccine Say They Generally Avoid Them: Poll

Recent polling has found that among the 30 percent of Americans who do not plan on getting a COVID-19 vaccine, 57 percent generally avoid vaccines altogether.

The survey, which questioned 10,121 U.S. adults from February 16 to 21, 2021, found that 30 percent—roughly 3,036 individuals—said they don't plan on getting a COVID-19 vaccine. These individuals provided various reasons for their refusal.

Roughly 89 percent voiced concern about side effects, and 85 percent said they thought the vaccines were developed and tested too quickly. About 80 percent said they wanted more information about how well the vaccines work, and 74 percent said they feel alarmed after seeing too many mistakes made by the medical care system in the past. Around 68 percent said they didn't think they needed the vaccine.

Lastly, 57 percent said that they don't generally get vaccines. This percentage represents around 1,730 people among the 3,036 individuals who said they wouldn't get vaccinated. The survey didn't ask these individuals about their personal vaccination histories.

If these statistics were applied to the estimated 255.2 billion adults in the U.S. population, that would mean that 76.5 million adults don't plan on getting vaccinated. Roughly 43.6 million people in that subset would avoid vaccinations as a general rule.

The survey was conducted by the Pew Research Center Survey and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.6 percentage points.

COVID-19 vaccine vaccination doses poll anti-vaxxer coronavirus
Recent polling has found that among the 30 percent of Americans who do not plan on getting a COVID-19 vaccine, 57 percent generally avoid vaccines altogether. In this January 13, 2021 photo, Safeway pharmacist Preston Young fills a syringe with Moderna COVID-19 vaccination during a drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty

Epidemiologists estimate that 70 percent of the population will need to develop immunity in order to end the pandemic, whether through vaccinations or other means, according to Science Magazine.

People who oppose receiving vaccines often fear negative health effects, feel suspiciously of medical authorities or haven't had their concerns addressed by the information available on the websites of the World Health Organization (WHO) or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A smaller number may oppose vaccination for religious reasons or fear that vaccinations won't protect them from disease.

Heidi Larson, director of the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told Nature that the pro-vaccine community must do a better job of reaching out to anti-vaccination communities to be "responsive to the narratives that are out there among the undecided."

She believes anti-vaccination advocates use personalized, emotive messages that appeal to people's empathy ("Do you love your children?") rather than fear ("Vaccines will kill you."). The pro-vaccination movement must do the same, she said, by using videos and first-person testimonies that appeal to emotions rather than just share medical facts.

"We need to get better at storytelling," said Noel Brewer, a behavioral scientist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill told Nature. "We need to carry positive stories and also negative stories about the harms of not vaccinating."

Newsweek contacted the CDC for comment.

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