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I can’t believe how many people don’t want a coronavirus vaccine

Published Aug 5th, 2020 4:18PM EDT
Coronavirus vaccine
Image: AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

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  • We’re still months away from a coronavirus vaccine, although public health experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci have said one could arrive later this year, at the earliest.
  • However, a new poll reveals that the number of Americans who say they plan to get a coronavirus vaccine once they’re actually able to is falling.
  • The assumption is that at least 60% of a population needs to get the coronavirus vaccine for it to have the desired effect.

Everyone is operating under the expectation right now that a coronavirus vaccine will be the thing that finally helps us move on from this pandemic so that we can start recapturing a bit of the normalcy we enjoyed pre-coronavirus. It’s probably too much to expect us to return to the way things were in 2019 should a vaccine arrive later this year, on the early side of the range of an estimated release schedule that White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci has been touting. But it will be a major breakthrough, nonetheless, towards bringing what we’ve all been living with for months to some kind of closure.

However, it won’t be because of a vaccine, in and of itself. “It’s not a vaccine that will save us,” Harvard Global Health Institute director Ashish Jha explains. “It’s vaccination.” In other words, enough people actually have to take the thing for it to have a broad effect across the population. And there are actually some worrying signs regarding that prospect.

According to the latest reported estimates, scientists think at least 60% of a population needs to be vaccinated for this to have the desired effect (and maybe as much as 80% could need to be vaccinated). Unfortunately, Yahoo News and YouGov have been polling Americans for a few months now, asking the following question: “If and when a coronavirus vaccine becomes available, will you get vaccinated?” And the number of people who answer yes has, unfortunately, been going down.

In early May, 55% of respondents answered yes to that question.

Later in May, the number was down to 50%.

Early July? Down again, this time to 46%. And now, in the latest Yahoo News/YouGov poll which was conducted from July 28 to 30, only 41% of Americans say they’re planning to get vaccinated for the coronavirus, which is the smallest share this poll has garnered to-date.

“Intention to take a vaccine falls when Americans are asked whether they would take it under certain plausible conditions,” the survey results note. “Willingness to take the vaccine appears to be affected most if the vaccine causes side effects or has a low efficacy rate. Americans are closely divided regarding factors such as having to receive multiple doses of the vaccine or if there are long wait times to get vaccinated.”

Democrats are pretty solid in their support of getting vaccinated, according to the survey results, while Independents and Republicans are “more likely to say they will not get vaccinated if any of the conditions present themselves alongside a vaccine — including multiple doses or long wait times.”

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.

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