A new poll found the US may be on track to vaccinate at least 70 percent of the adult population against Covid-19 by the summer.
In the latest survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 62 percent of respondents said they had received at least one dose of vaccine, up from 56 percent in April. At the same time, around a third of those classified as “waiting” stated that they had already made vaccine appointments or that they would have planned to do so shortly.
Dr. William Schaffner, National Infectious Disease Foundation medical director and vaccine expert, found the results encouraging.
“I think there are a lot of people on the fence who are concerned that things are moving too fast and about possible side effects, but those concerns are allayed when they see more of their friends and acquaintances who are theirs Celebrate vaccination, “said Dr. Schaffner, who did not participate in the monthly survey, the Covid-19 Vaccine Monitor.
“You get a growing sense of comfort and assurance that ‘people like me’ will be vaccinated,” which he said was essential in building confidence in the vaccines.
The two populations that saw the largest increases in vaccination rates from April to May were Latino adults (from 47 percent to 57 percent) and adults without a college degree (from 48 percent to 55 percent).
The telephone survey of 1,526 adults was conducted in English and Spanish from May 18-25.
On May 10, the Food and Drug Administration approved the vaccine manufactured by Pfizer and BioNTech for children aged 12 and over. The survey found that 40 percent of parents said either their child has already received at least one dose or will soon receive one.
However, the parents of younger children were much more cautious. Only about a quarter expressed willingness to have their children vaccinated once the shots were approved for them.
The results suggest that efforts to protect as many young students as possible from Covid-19 at the start of the school year may face obstacles.
While public health experts welcomed the continued improvement in vaccination rates, they found it shrank the pool of the most willing adults.
“There is almost no low hanging fruit at this point, but there is a path to a slow but steady increase in vaccination rates through improved access, information, advocacy and incentives,” said Drew Altman, president and chief executive officer of Kaiser Family Foundation.
President Biden’s goal is to achieve 70 percent adult vaccine coverage by July 4th. Dr. Schaffner said he thought the goal was possible. “We have to work harder,” he said.
The authors of the survey thought the goal was realistic, because in addition to 62 percent of adults who had received at least one dose, another 4 percent said they wanted the injection as soon as possible, and another 4 percent – that is the same one third of the “waiting” group – stated that they had made an appointment or would do so within three months.
Despite the positive news, vaccination rates in adults who previously reported significant hesitation (7 percent) or outright rejection (13 percent) have remained unchanged for several months. And a third of the “wait and see” group said they would wait at least a year before getting the recordings.
The survey also looked at attitudes towards vaccination incentives and the impact of government news about the shots. Financial incentives, like the million dollar lottery in Ohio for the newly vaccinated, receive a mocking blow.
However, the survey found that such rewards can be successful motivators for people to get the shots. Fifteen percent of non-vaccinated adults in the survey said their state’s offer of $ 100 may make them reconsider, as well as free transportation and tickets to a sporting event or concert.
Earlier this month, people who showed up for vaccination at an event on Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama were able to complete two winning laps on the track. (Cars and trucks yes, motorcycles no.) Similar incentives are offered across the country.
About 20 percent of unvaccinated workers said they would be more likely to get the shots if their employer gave them paid time off for the dates and time needed to recover from side effects.
The report also showed that the public had some confidence in the government’s health-related messages, though many were confused by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s announcement earlier this month that vaccinated people could largely avoid face masks and social distancing. More than half said the CDC’s guidelines were generally clear and accessible, but about 40 percent found them confusing and unclear.
Strikingly, 85 percent of unvaccinated people said that the CDC’s new guidelines did not make them more prepared to be vaccinated.
But another cohort viewed government approval as a potential launch vehicle. The survey found that a third of unvaccinated adults, including 44 percent in the “wait and see” group, said they would be more likely to receive a vaccine once it received full approval from the Food and Drug Administration. Vaccine makers Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech recently announced that they are making progress towards this goal.