Most Americans who haven’t been vaccinated against COVID-19 say they are unlikely to get the shots and doubt they would work against the aggressive delta variant despite evidence they do, according to a new poll that underscores the challenges facing public health officials amid soaring infections in some states.
Among American adults who have not yet received a vaccine, 35% say they probably will not, and 45% say they definitely will not, according to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Just 3% say they definitely will get the shots, though another 16% say they probably will.
What’s more, 64% of unvaccinated Americans have little to no confidence the shots are effective against variants — including the delta variant that officials say is responsible for 83% of new cases in the US — despite evidence that they offer strong protection. In contrast, 86% of those who have already been vaccinated have at least some confidence that the vaccines will work.
That means “that there will be more preventable cases, more preventable hospitalizations and more preventable deaths,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins University.
“We always knew some proportion of the population would be difficult to persuade no matter what the data showed, (and) a lot of people are beyond persuasion,” Adalja said. He echoed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky in calling the current surge “a pandemic of the unvaccinated” because nearly all hospital admissions and deaths have been among those who weren’t immunized.
The AP-NORC survey was conducted before several Republicans and conservative cable news personalities this week urged people to get vaccinated after months of stoking hesitancy. That effort comes as COVID-19 cases nearly tripled in the US over the past two weeks.
Nationally, 56.4% of all Americans, including children, have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the CDC. And White House officials said Thursday that vaccinations are beginning to increase in some states where rates are lagging behind and COVID-19 cases are rising, including in Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri and Nevada.
Still, just over 40% of Louisiana’s population has received at least one dose, and the state reported 5,388 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday — the third-highest single-day figure since the pandemic began. Hospitalizations also rose steeply in the last month.
The AP-NORC survey found that the majority of Americans — 54% — are at least somewhat concerned that they or someone in their family will be infected, including 27% who are very concerned. That’s up slightly from a month ago, but far below the beginning of the year, when about 7 in 10 Americans said they were at least somewhat concerned that they or someone they knew would be infected.