COVID-19 Vaccine Acceptance Falling Globally, in U.S.

The percentage of people globally who say they will get a COVID-19 vaccine has fallen in recent weeks, even as tens of millions of doses have been administered around the world, new survey data disseminated by CCP suggests. 
Teachers in Iowa get COVID-19 vaccines on Feb. 6. Photo/Phil Roeder

The percentage of people globally who say they will get a COVID-19 vaccine has fallen in recent weeks, even as tens of millions of doses have been administered around the world, new survey data suggests.

The Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs, along with MIT, Facebook and WHO, have been collecting and disseminating a global COVID behavior survey since July 2020 from nearly 1.7 million participants in 67 countries. The most recent data was collected in the two weeks ending Feb. 1.

After a slight increase to 66 percent of people saying they would get a vaccine at the beginning of January 2021, the average acceptance level across the 23 countries in this study fell to 63 percent. This is amidst increased focus and media discussion on the rollout and access to COVID-19 vaccines.

Since March 2020 when WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic, more than 111.5 million people have become sick and nearly 2.5 million have died from it, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 500,000 people in the United States have died from COVID-19, the largest number of deaths in any country across the globe.

“We had hoped we would find that acceptance of COVID vaccines was on the rise, since they are a critical part of ending the pandemic,” says CCP’s Executive Director Susan Krenn. “This just means we have more work to do in helping people understand why getting vaccinated is so crucial to helping them, their families and their communities.”

A large percentage of people in a community need to be vaccinated in order to reach herd immunity, the level at which the spread of COVID-19 would become difficult. Herd immunity levels vary depending on the infectiousness of diseases, but Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the United States has said 70 to 85 percent of Americans need to be vaccinated to reach it. That is a much higher percentage than has reported they would be willing to get a vaccine.

Of five countries in the Americas, the data found, only the United States saw a decline in vaccine acceptance in late January (from 69 percent to 65 percent). The other four countries – Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Colombia – saw an increase of five percentage points in vaccine acceptance. Argentina saw much higher acceptance rates among certain demographics. For example, in Argentina acceptance rates are higher among older (+18 percent), college educated (+12 percent), urban residents (+20 percent) and men (+5 percent).

Reported vaccine acceptance rates in European countries remained constant, with Italy and the United Kingdom well into the range of achieving herd immunity.  Some countries (Italy, the UK and Germany) have very low rates of reported non-acceptance (8 percent, 10 percent and 13 percent, respectively). By contrast, respondents in Turkey and France are consistently among the lowest reported rates of vaccine acceptance within the 23 countries surveyed in this study: 24 percent and 56 percent, respectively.

After a recent dip, acceptance levels in Nigeria are beginning to rise.  Gender differences continue to exist within participants, but since the last data collection period women’s acceptance rates increased 4 percentage points from 51 percent to 55 percent.

Along with the new data on vaccine acceptance rates, CCP has also released another wave of data about other COVID-19 prevention behaviors. From the first survey in July, reported handwashing in the United States is down in every group except rural residents. Over the same period, reported mask wearing and physical distancing are up in the US. And while a smaller percentage of Americans report they have trust in scientists, they are still the most trusted sources of COVID-19 information.

The KAP COVID dashboard presents data from a global survey of knowledge, attitudes and practices around COVID-19, and data is continuously being collected. The findings allow researchers, public health programmers and policymakers to compare changes in behaviors and attitudes over time and informs further research related to the development of prevention messages.



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