(CN) — Despite positive indications from drug manufacturers and health professionals — including recent congressional testimony by infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci — that a Covid-19 vaccine may be available within the next six months, a new poll suggests about a third of Americans say they have no plans to be vaccinated when it’s available.
As the world continues to grapple with the deadly coronavirus that has claimed the lives of 700,000 people worldwide — including more than 150,000 deaths in the United States alone — many eyes have been desperately looking to the progress of a potential Covid-19 vaccine, a front that has seen some promising news.
Numerous pharmaceutical companies have thrown their resources into the creation of coronavirus vaccine and the United States recently went so far as to make a vaccine agreement with pharmaceutical heavyweight Pfizer and the German biotechnology company BioNTech. The federal government will pay the two companies $1.95 billion for the first 100 million doses of an FDA-approved vaccine they can produce, with an option to buy another 500 million doses if all goes well.
Despite these cautiously promising signs regarding the development of an effective Covid-19 vaccine, new polling data reveals a potentially new problem: many Americans don’t want one.
According to a Gallup survey of nearly 8,000 adults in the United States, 65% of Americans say they would be happy to get a Covid-19 vaccine that was FDA approved and completely free, while a notable 35% say they have no plans to do so.
As has been the case for other elements of the Covid-19 outbreak thus far, party politics play a role in the equation. According to the poll, over 80% of Democrats say they would be willing to take a Covid-19 vaccine today if they could, while less than half (47%) of Republicans say the same.
Independents seem more willing to be vaccinated, with 59% of them saying they would get a Covid-19 vaccine.
Besides party politics, similar divides can also be seen for age and race.
While the oldest and youngest Americans are largely on board with getting vaccinated for the novel coronavirus, with 70% of senior citizens and 76% of adults under 30 saying they would take a vaccine today if they could, the group between is not as enthusiastic. The poll shows that 64% of Americans between the ages 30 and 49 would take a vaccine while just 59% of Americans aged 50-64 say the same.
The picture is similar when looking at race. Despite media reports and public health statistics showing racial minorities are disproportionately affected by the coronavirus outbreak in the United States, Friday’s poll shows that non-white Americans are nearly 10% less likely to want a Covid-19 vaccine than white Americans, with 59% of nonwhites being OK with a vaccine and 67% of white Americans on board.
As the national debate over how and when to get America’s children back in schools ramps up, Friday’s poll also explored how parents of younger children view the prospect of a Covid-19 vaccine. While the poll did not explicitly ask if the parents would have their children vaccinated for coronavirus, 59% of parents said want the vaccine for themselves and 41% do not — possibly a key indicator on parents’ willingness to vaccinate their kids when the option becomes available.
Friday’s poll results show some pushback against U.S. vaccination efforts moving forward, but it is worth noting that American anxiety over new vaccines is not a new occurrence.
In 1954, Gallup asked Americans to gauge their feelings on the newly created polio vaccine. When the pollsters asked if they were willing to take the vaccine specifically to help prevent the spread of polio, 60% said they would while another third of Americans said they wouldn’t — numbers remarkably similar to those reported Friday.
The Gallup poll was conducted from July 20 to Aug. 2 and contained a 2% margin of error.