Confidence in the coronavirus vaccine increased among U.S. adults late last year, with nearly half of Americans saying they would likely get vaccinated once the jab is available to them, according to a new federal study published on February 9.
Before shipments of COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna began making their way to the arms of millions of Americans across the U.S. in December, national polling suggested that many adults were initially hesitant to get inoculated against the disease.
According to the new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 39.4% of adult Americans surveyed in September said they were absolutely certain or very likely to get vaccinated. However, that number increased to just over 49% by December as the drugs were granted emergency authorization from the federal government, the CDC found. The findings were published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
If including people who said they were somewhat likely to get vaccinated, confidence grew to as high as 68% in December. Trust in the drugs grew the most among adults aged 65 years and older, who have been some of the first Americans in line to receive the shots.
Between September and December, fewer people said they didn't intend to get a vaccine once it's available; "Vaccine nonintent" decreased from 38.1% to 32.1%, the study found.
However, confidence differed between demographics. Younger adults, women, Black people, people living in nonmetropolitan areas, and those with lower educational attainment were more likely to say they didn't want the vaccine. People with lower income and those without health insurance also said they didn't intend to get vaccinated, according to the study.
"Although confidence in COVID-19 vaccines increased during September–December 2020 in the United States, additional efforts to tailor messages and implement strategies to further increase the public's confidence, overall and within specific subpopulations, are needed," researchers said in the study.
Earlier on the same day, representatives from the White House COVID-19 task force announced they would begin shipping doses of COVID-19 vaccines directly to community health centers to boost the equitable access to the shots.
The program, which is in addition to doses sent directly to states and pharmacy chains, is intended to expand vaccine supply to some of the hardest-hit communities, such as people who are homeless, agriculture migrant workers, residents of public housing and those with limited English proficiency, said Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, chair of the White House's COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force.
"Equity is our North star here," Nunez-Smith said during a press briefing. "This effort that focuses on direct allocation to the community health centers really is about connecting with those hard-to-reach populations across the country."