In a large survey of over 2000 respondents, 69% of them said they would get an approved COVID-19 vaccine.
Researchers from The Ohio State University surveyed 2006 Americans in May, asking them about their willingness to be vaccinated and 11 factors that could influence that decision.
They found that 1374 (69%) people in the survey said they would "definitely" or "probably" get a vaccine. The survey found that 17% were "not sure" and 14% were "probably or "definitely" not willing.
"The interest here is higher than what we typically see for flu vaccine and other vaccines where there is a strong public health need for widespread protection," Paul Reiter, PhD, an associate professor of health behavior and health promotion, The Ohio State University said.
Respondents said the strongest predictors of whether they would accept a vaccine were how well the vaccine works and whether their health care provider would recommend it. In addition, respondents’ perceived personal health threat from COVID-19 also played strongly into their willingness to be vaccinated.
"That aligns with what we see in public health in a variety of areas -- if someone perceives themselves to be at a higher risk of a health issue, that's going to make them more likely to engage in the health behavior, in this case vaccination," Reiter said.
Reiter acknowledged the elimination of obstacles and other strategies to increase the chances of vaccination among those who face increased risks of severe illness or death. For example, f the COVID-19 vaccine against requires more than one dose—which many of the leading vaccine candidates do in fact—then it will present even more challenges. He points to HPV vaccination and the challenges to vaccinate young people against HPV to help prevent cancer. The HPV vaccine requires at least two doses, and three when given later in the teen years.
With regards to prospective COVID-19 vaccines, the public debate rages on about their safety and efficacy. One of the more unexpected findings in this study - and something that isn't typical of public health research - is the correlation between political affiliation and willingness to adopt a public health intervention, Reiter said. Respondents who identified as liberal or moderate were significantly more likely to accept a vaccine.
"COVID-19 has turned into a political issue in many cases, and I think that some people just pick their side based on that, without much research," he said. "We've seen that with mask wearing. It's a promising public health intervention, but it's turned into a political powder keg," Reiter said.
While the survey was conducted months ago, Reiter said he doesn't expect much has changed in terms of public perception.
"As we get closer to a vaccine becoming available, factors that could further affect the public's interest will include cost and the number of doses required," he said.
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