All of the still-living former US presidents, minus President Trump, have filmed a public service message in which they praise the coronavirus vaccine, urge all Americans to get vaccinated as soon as possible — and are shown with rolled-up sleeves getting vaccinated themselves in the ad. One of the reasons that President Trump, the only member of the group of former presidents who’s also actually gotten COVID-19, is not shown in the ad is because he already received his coronavirus vaccine quietly, reportedly before he left the White House in January.
Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker shows that, through Thursday, 95.7 million coronavirus vaccine doses have been administered in the US, at a cadence of 2.17 million doses per day on average. Things like the ad with former presidents getting vaccinated may help improve those numbers (and you can check out the ad below). But there’s still a significant amount of so-called “vaccine hesitancy” that has to be dealt with if the US has any hope of achieving widespread enough vaccinations to bring us to herd immunity against the coronavirus.
White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci has said that vaccinating 70% to 85% of the US population would allow the country to get back to normal. We should reach that mark in the next six months at the current pace of vaccinations, but the US Census’ Household Weekly Pulse survey for the week ending March 1 has some ominous implications along these lines.
Among other things, its findings include this data point: Some 90 million Americans feel some degree of vaccine hesitancy, which can come via anything from anti-vaccination conspiracy theories to simpler misunderstandings. Like the fact that several million Americans, according to the new survey, said they don’t plan to get the COVID shot because they’re concerned about its price.
NEW >> @AdCouncil launches PSA with former Presidents Obama, Bush, Clinton and Carter urging vaccination.
“In order to get rid of this pandemic, it’s important for our fellow citizens to get vaccinated,” says Bush. “This vaccine means hope,” adds Obama.pic.twitter.com/s2A91blRJP
— Ian Sams (@IanSams) March 11, 2021
That’s unfortunate, because the shot is actually free to all recipients in the US. And not only does this speak to an overall messaging effort that needs to do better at communicating this to Americans, but while the 6.9 million Americans worried about the “cost” only amounts to a tiny fraction of the country’s population — every person who does not get vaccinated matters, representing one more potential link in the transmission chain of this virus.
And cost isn’t the only concern. The Census survey also found that 3.6 million Black Americans simply “don’t trust COVID-19 vaccines.”
“Hesitancy comes in many forms,” Dr. Jacob Reider, CEO of the Alliance for Better Health, told Fortune. His is a nonprofit that helps Medicaid recipients and the uninsured get access to health care. “A perceived financial barrier is absolutely a component of hesitancy and a reminder that we need to deeply understand why people make the decisions that they make.”