Why COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy Is Shrinking

Surveys Fielded From Dec. 16 to Feb. 12

changing vaccine attitudes

Lara Antal / Verywell

Key Themes From Our Survey

  • The percentage of people who say they aren’t sure they’d get a COVID-19 vaccine is shrinking. These people are becoming acceptors or getting vaccinated.
  • The number of people who personally know a vaccinated person has nearly doubled in four weeks.
  • Many people are still confused about who is eligible to get vaccinated and how to get an appointment if you qualify.

As vaccine supply and governmental support of public health measures increase, public sentiment about the COVID-19 vaccine seems to be improving.

In data captured by Verywell Health through January and February, we see a decrease in the size of our surveyed population that is undecided about whether or not they’ll take the vaccine. They’re either getting vaccinated or becoming more sure that they’d accept one when given the opportunity.

The data presented in this article is from five surveys of 1,000 Americans asked about their thoughts and feelings towards getting the COVID-19 vaccines. We collected the latest data the week ending on February 12. Our survey sample highlighted four types of respondents based on their answer to whether or not they’d get an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine if it were freely available: 

  • Acceptors: Those who would agree to be vaccinated
  • Rejectors: Those who would not agree to take a vaccine
  • Undecideds: Those who don’t know if they would take a vaccine
  • Vaccinated: Those who have received a COVID-19 vaccination.

In the most recent survey, only 15% of respondents say they are undecided about getting vaccinated, compared to 19% in our first survey. Thankfully, these undecideds don’t seem to be defecting into the vaccine rejector camp. The rejector numbers are effectively unchanged in the last couple of surveys, with 22% of respondents saying they would still refuse the vaccine.

However, the pro-vaccination group is growing. Sixty-three percent of participants in our latest survey were either vaccinated or would agree to be vaccinated. That’s up from 56% in our first survey, back in mid-December.

More People Know Someone Who’s Been Vaccinated

Vaccine supply has increased and shots are making their way into more arms. The U.S. has administered more than 75 million vaccine doses, and we’re getting back up to about 2 million shots per day after a drop-down due to severe winter storms. 

As the rollout picks up speed, the percent of survey respondents who say they’ve been vaccinated is increasing. And the number of people who say they know someone who got the vaccine has nearly doubled in the last four weeks—from 36% in early January to 62% in our latest survey. This is a major factor in boosting people's comfort levels with COVID-19 vaccines.

This increase is also reflected in what folks think their friends and family will do moving forward. Almost 80% of respondents now believe at least some of their friends and family will choose to get the vaccine—up from 68% in mid-December. Over a third of our respondents think that all of their friends and family will choose to be vaccinated.

Trust Is Building In The National COVID-19 Relief Plan

President Biden and the new administration have taken a firm tone in supporting science and public health officials. And the nation seems to be following suit. Confidence has increased for elected officials and the national government. Over the last two waves of our survey—spanning the time since Biden took office on January 20—we’ve seen increases in confidence that the government will act in the interest of the public.

During Biden’s first two months in office, his number one priority has been getting the COVID-19 pandemic under control. Accelerating the vaccine rollout has been one of the most significant parts. During the first week of March, the administration announced the U.S. had secured enough doses to vaccinate all American adults by May.

Supply is already on the rise: Each state is on track to receive larger quantities of vaccines each week, increasing from 10 million doses to 13.5 million doses per week by mid-March. 

Combatting Hesitancy on a National Level

While making good on vaccine distribution promises is important to building pubic trust, the Biden administration is also invested in reaching those who are vaccine-hesitant along the way. And according to the National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness, this means working with and deferring to leaders in communities where vaccine hesitancy is most common.

Healthcare professionals and community organizers in Chicago, IL, and Miami, FL, tell Verywell that town hall meetings and local churches are successfully promoting vaccination in Black communities, where rates of vaccine uptake are particularly low. To target younger people, the government's Office of Minority Health (OMH) launched a social media campaign—#VaccineReady—during Black History Month.

During February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) granted more than $17 million of funding to community organizations dedicated to COVID-19 vaccine education. CBS News reported that funding went to 15 different organizations promoting vaccine education among Black, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American populations, including grassroots organizations like UnidosUS.

As the number of available doses increases, we’ll see more widespread campaigns focused on encouraging everyone to get vaccinated. The big question is if the systems to make an appointment and get your shot will improve during the coming weeks and months while supply is ramping up.

Rollout Concerns & Eligibility Confusion Abound

Only 28% of our survey population say the vaccine rollout is going “good or better.” This number is going up, which might be because of the increase of participants who know someone who’s been vaccinated. But there are still significant issues with the communication of who is eligible, how to sign up for an appointment, and how to get yourself vaccinated. 

Sixty-six percent of our survey population say they’re aware that there have been some vaccine distribution challenges, specifically vaccine scarcity—43% of respondents named “not enough vaccines” as the most prominent vaccine rollout challenge.

On the individual level, one of the biggest questions is: When will I be eligible? A quarter of unvaccinated survey respondents have no idea if it's their turn. One of the most confusing issues is that these eligibility requirements are determined on a state-by-state basis.

In most places, the older population is currently eligible to get the vaccine, but securing an appointment is difficult. With much of the scheduling happening online, those who aren't tech-savvy struggle to get appointments, even if they’re eligible. They may not have a computer, reliable internet, or feel comfortable navigating multiple sites.

In our survey, among those who say they are eligible, only half (50%) say they know how to register for a vaccine.

Your chance to get vaccinated might even come sooner than you expect. According to Verywell Health’s vaccine distribution tracker, we can expect most of the country to reach some level of herd immunity by September 2021. Many states are slated to fully vaccinate 70% of their population by late spring.

Resources To Determine Vaccine Eligibility and Make an Appointment

  • Check Verywell Health’s Vaccine Registration Information by State 
  • The New York Times has a great resource breaking down state by state eligibility status 
  • Review your local and state governments’ COVID-19 information pages
  • There may be multiple ways around you to get vaccinated. Check with your local branches of national pharmacy chains, local health care systems, and search the internet for information on local mass vaccination sites
  • If you’re a senior who is currently eligible to get vaccinated, call the Administration for Community Living’s Eldercare Locator number at 1-800-677-1116

A mass vaccination campaign in the middle of a pandemic is an operation full of moving parts. Hopefully, with the increased investment by the federal and local governments, as well as the expected continued improvements to vaccine supply and education, we’ll push through these growing pains and get as many people vaccinated as quickly as we can.

Methodology

The Verywell Vaccine Sentiment Tracker is a bi-weekly measurement of Americans’ attitudes and behaviors around COVID-19 and the vaccine. The survey is fielded online, every other week beginning December 16, 2020, to 1,000 American adults. The total sample matches U.S. Census estimates for age, gender, race/ethnicity, and region.

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.

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Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Trends in Number of COVID-19 Vaccinations in the US. Updated March 3, 2021.

  2. The White House. Remarks by President Biden on the Administration’s COVID-19 Vaccination Efforts. March 2, 2021.

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