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1 in 3 Americans don’t plan to get COVID vaccine — poll

About 1 in 3 Americans say they definitely or probably won’t get a COVID-19 vaccine, according to a new poll that some experts say is discouraging news if the US hopes to achieve herd immunity and vanquish the outbreak.

The poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds that while 67% of Americans plan to get vaccinated or have already done so, 15% are certain they won’t and 17% say probably not. Many express doubts about the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness.

The poll suggests that substantial skepticism persists more than a month and a half into a US vaccination drive that has encountered few if any serious side effects. It finds that resistance runs higher among younger people, people without college degrees, Black Americans and Republicans.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s leading infectious-disease scientist, has estimated that somewhere between 70% and 85% of the US population needs to get inoculated to stop the scourge that has killed close to 470,000 Americans. More recently, he said the spread of more contagious variants of the virus increases the need for more people to get their shots — and quickly.

A health worker holds empty vials of the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in East Jerusalem, on February 3, 2021. (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

So is 67% of Americans enough?

“No. No, no, no, no,” says William Hanage, a Harvard University expert on disease dynamics. He adds: “You’re going to need to get quite large proportions of the population vaccinated before you see a real effect.”

Nearly 33 million Americans, or about 10% of the population, have received at least one dose, and 9.8 million have been fully vaccinated, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

The poll of 1,055 adults, taken Jan. 28 through Feb. 1, provides insight into the skepticism.

Of those who say they definitely will not get the vaccine, 65% cite worries about side effects, despite the shots’ safety record over the past months. About the same percentage say they don’t trust COVID-19 vaccines. And 38% say they don’t believe they need a vaccine, with a similar share saying that they don’t know if a COVID-19 vaccine will work and that they don’t trust the government.

Of those who probably will not get the vaccine but have not ruled it out completely, 63% say they are waiting to see if it is safe, and 60% say they are concerned about possible side effects.

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