Six in 10 U.S. citizens now personally know somebody who has received a COVID-19 vaccine, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll.
The older a respondent was, the more likely they were to know a vaccinated individual — reflecting the high prioritization of older people, who are more vulnerable to poor coronavirus outcomes: While just 43% of people aged 18 to 29 knew someone who’d been vaccinated, 76% of people over 65 said the same.
When it came to the prospect of getting vaccinated themselves, four in 10 said they planned to get vaccinated when the shots became available, while 31% said they did not plan to do so, found the poll of 1,000 adult U.S. citizens conducted Feb. 5 to Feb. 7. Another 11% said they had already been vaccinated, and 18% said they weren’t sure.
As HuffPost notes, the steadily rising number of people who know someone who has been vaccinated could have positive implications for combating vaccine hesitancy.
Among the nearly one-third of people who say they want to “wait and see” how the COVID-19 vaccine is working for others before getting it themselves, 37% say that hearing a close friend or family member got vaccinated would make them more likely to get the vaccine, according to a separate Kaiser Family Foundation vaccine-monitor poll.
Thirty-eight percent of the “wait and see” group said the same of a trusted doctor or health-care provider getting vaccinated, and 51% said that millions of people having been safely vaccinated would make them more likely to follow suit.
Health-care workers who have been vaccinated “can positively influence vaccination decisions of peers, patients, friends, and family,” notes a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention slide deck on building COVID-19 vaccine confidence in patients.
In an effort to counter some Black Americans’ COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, which experts say stems in part from a history of medical racism and experimentation in the U.S., many Black health-care providers — including Queens, N.Y. critical-care nurse Sandra Lindsay, among the first in the country to be vaccinated outside of a clinical trial — have gotten vaccinated to help instill confidence.
Lessons from behavioral economics and consumer research may also help with the country’s mass-vaccination effort: In a study published last month, researchers said that making it easy for people to “observe” that others had been vaccinated could help boost uptake. They suggested “wearable tokens,” like pins or stickers, and “digital badges” on social media.
Some 68.3 million COVID-19 vaccine doses had been distributed to states as of Thursday morning, and 46.4 million doses had been administered, according to a CDC tracker. About 34.7 million people have received one or more doses, with 11.2 million people having received both doses of the dual-dose Pfizer
Given the limited supply of vaccine doses, the CDC recommended that health-care workers and long-term-care residents be offered initial doses, followed by frontline essential workers and people 75 and older. Next up in the agency’s suggested phases are people aged 65 to 74, people aged 16 to 64 with underlying conditions that put them at greater risk for coronavirus complications, and other essential workers not included in previous phases.
Beyond that first-priority group, many states have diverged from CDC recommendations, according to a KFF analysis last month.
Vaccine shortages have led to headaches in booking appointments and prompted some vaccine sites to shut down temporarily. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease doctor, admitted last Sunday that demand “clearly outstrips supply” now, but predicted that the number of available vaccine doses would “increase substantially” over the next two months.
So when will the average-risk American be able to get their coronavirus shots? It depends on whom you ask, but many public-health experts have suggested late spring or summer of 2021. Fauci, in a “Today” show interview Thursday, said the activation of pharmacies, community vaccine centers and mobile units would step up the pace of vaccinations in April.
“I would imagine by the time we get to April, that would be what I would call for [lack of] better wording, open season,” Fauci said. “Namely, virtually everybody and anybody in any category can start to get vaccinated.”