Americans are back on the COVID-19 vaccine bandwagon. Sixty-nine percent now plan to get a COVID-19 vaccine, close to the previous high of 73% in April, according to the latest data from The Harris Poll.
At the lowest point in October, vaccine skepticism had far more Americans hesitating: Just 58% said they would get a vaccine.
That’s good news for vaccine makers—and at least a little better news for public health officials, who say a minimum 75% of the population will need to be vaccinated to stop COVID-19. That percentage has been moving upwards of late; Anthony Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), recently admitted the goal may need to move as high as 90% to truly halt the U.S. outbreak.
The uptick comes as both vaccine makers with emergency use approval, Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech, launch vaccine marketing and awareness campaigns. Pfizer and BioNTech's initial effort focuses on reminding people about their pre-pandemic lives, while Moderna is striking up partnerships, including one with Uber, to raise awareness.
The federal government is also working to promote COVID-19 vaccines. The Biden administration has pledged a locally-focused public education campaign using trusted voices to encourage vaccine uptake. Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is in the first phase of its $250 million campaign to shore up vaccine confidence and encourage ongoing safety measures.
The feds’ local goal will likely be necessary. Harris numbers show the intention to get a vaccine breaks down differently among age groups and demographics. Both vaccine makers and the government will have to tailor messages and target media to a variety of groups.
For instance, among people aged 65 and older, 82% say they are likely to get vaccinated. The intention is lowest among 18-34-year-olds; only 59% of them say they will, Harris’ most recent data reveals.
Still, that’s not necessarily bad news. The younger generations’ vaccine attitude has more to do with apathy than antipathy, said Rob Jekielek, managing director at The Harris Poll. In general, the younger cohort would be likely to get a vaccine if required—to go to college, for instance.
A bigger and potentially more worrisome gap remains between white and Black Americans. While 72% of white people say they are likely to get a vaccine, only 58% of Black people agree. Lower trust in healthcare information sources, such as doctors and nurses, and pharma companies likely contributes to Black Americans' lower inclination to take a vaccine.