Just over half of Americans plan to get coronavirus vaccine as soon as it's available, survey finds

The country is moving closer to a COVID-19 vaccine, but Americans seem to have a wait-and-see mentality about receiving it.

ByLisa Bartley KABC logo
Wednesday, December 9, 2020
Half of Americans plan to get COVID-19 vaccine ASAP, survey finds
The country is moving closer to a COVID-19 vaccine, but surveys show Americans have a wait-and-see mentality about receiving it.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- As the U.S. moves closer to authorizing emergency use of a coronavirus vaccine, surveys show Americans are hesitant about being among the first to receive it.

In documents released Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration indicated Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine had met the criteria required to prove the vaccine was safe and effective.

A panel of experts will further review the company's application for emergency authorization during an FDA scheduled hearing Thursday.

The FDA is also set to consider a separate vaccine being developed by Moderna.

Meanwhile, surveys show Americans have ongoing questions about the safety of a coronavirus vaccine.

A survey released in late November by Langer Research Associates and conducted by the Societal Experts Action Network found just over one out of two Americans intended to obtain a coronavirus vaccine as soon as it became available.

A large number of Americans indicated a wait-and-see mentality about obtaining the vaccine.

About two out of three Americans said they would seek out the vaccine once it had been available for a few months and about seven in 10 Americans indicated they would obtain the vaccine once public health officials had proven it was safe and effective.

"It's a little hard having trust on if it will work," said Laura Jauregui, a Los Angeles area mom and marathoner considering whether the vaccine is safe for herself and her family.

Ultimately, Jauregui said she believes she will get the vaccine.

"I think I'll wait a little bit, I guess, have people test it out first before I get it," Jauregui said. "Personally, I will get it because it is going to keep me healthy. It is going to keep my family healthy."

Irma Moyao, another Los Angeles area mom and Jauregui's running partner, expressed more concerns about the vaccine for herself and her family.

"I don't think we are ready for it. I need to learn more about it, see the side effects of it, the results of it," Moyao said. "If it is up to me, I would like to wait at least a year before I do it."

At a hair salon in La Verne, several women also expressed reservations.

"Everyone wants a vaccine and then everyone I hear, 'Well, I don't want it because it's rushed,'" lamented hairdresser Amanda Clarke Cohn.

Eyewitness News found hesitance around vaccines is nothing new.

Roughly four years ago, California eliminated religious exemptions for vaccines to increase the number of school-aged children getting immunized for measles, mumps and rubella.

Outside of medical exemptions, the MMR vaccine is required for school-aged children.

In the 2018-2019 school year, 96.5% of kindergartners had received the vaccine statewide, according to the California Department of Public Health.

When a vaccine is not required, acceptance of it is much lower. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, less than one out of two adults in California received the flu shot last year.

"It's reasonable to question things," said Dr. Anne Rimoin, an infectious disease expert and professor at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. "What's really important for people to understand is that vaccines go through very rigorous testing protocols. Vaccines are very safe."

Dr. Rimoin said while she understands the concerns Americans have behind something, she also hopes the public will trust the science behind the vaccine so that the country can achieve something called "herd immunity" from the coronavirus and pull out of this pandemic.

Right now, one person infected with COVID-19 can pass the virus onto a lot of people because so many people are not immune to it.

But, if a large number of people were vaccinated and therefore immune from the virus, it would be much harder for the disease to spread, according to medical experts. That is the concept behind herd immunity.

"So if we have low vaccine uptake in a population, then we're not really going to be able to stop the spread of the virus in the population," Dr. Rimoin said. "It's only if we have a really high level of vaccine acceptance, people actually taking this vaccine, that we will actually be able to stop the spread of the virus."

Grace Manthey contributed to this report.