Study: One-Third of Americans Say They Are Unlikely, Hesitant to Get COVID-19 Vaccine


The results are from a public polling of more than 800 English-speaking adults nationwide in a study published in the journal Vaccine.

A University of California, Davis study found that more than one-third of people nationwide are either unlikely or at least hesitant to get a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine when it becomes available to them, according to a press release.

The results are from a public polling of more than 800 English-speaking adults nationwide in a study published in the journal Vaccine.

“Our research indicates that vaccine uptake will be suboptimal…with 14.8% of respondents being unlikely to get vaccinated and another 23% unsure,” said lead study author Jeanette B. Ruiz, assistant professor of teaching communication at UC Davis, in a press release. “Even though vaccination remains one of the most effective public health initiatives, some still doubt the efficacy and safety of vaccines. Unfortunately, the seemingly rushed process of the COVID-19 vaccine may have further fueled these doubts.”

The study authors noted that respondents cited vaccine safety and efficacy assessments as the primary basis for hesitancy.

Compensated participants were recruited from the United States through an internet survey panel of 2.5 million residents developed by a commercial survey firm. Recruitment was based on quota sampling to produce a US census-matched sample representative of the nation, and was representative of the US population in terms of region of residence, sex and age, but also diverse with regard to all demographic variables assessed, according to the study.

The study was conducted relatively early in the pandemic outbreak during 2 days in June 2020. The researchers measured the respondents’ intention to vaccinate; demographic and health status profile of individuals least likely to vaccinate; general vaccine knowledge and vaccine conspiracy beliefs; and the role that media and partisan politics played in their resistance to vaccination.

Demographic characteristics, vaccine knowledge, perceived vulnerability to COVID-19, risk factors for COVID-19, and politics are likely to contribute to vaccination hesitancy, according to the study authors.

Social media played a part in informing respondents about COVID-19, with those who relied on these platforms anticipating a lower likelihood of COVID-19 vaccine acceptance. The participants who reported getting their information from various other media did not show significant differences in vaccine acceptance, according to the study authors.

Media reports have regularly noted that men, 65 years of age and older, and individuals with pre-existing conditions are most vulnerable to COVID-19. Respondents from these groups said they were more likely to accept a future vaccine in this survey. The researchers also found that a majority of the least-educated respondents did not expect to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Vaccination hesitancy was met with these 4 reasons from participants:

  • Concerns about vaccine adverse effects
  • Worries about allergic responses to the vaccine
  • Doubts about vaccine efficacy
  • Preference for developing immunity through infection

Other less frequently cited reasons include being healthy, fear of needles, being young, and lack of concern about developing a serious illness.

“The pandemic has especially burdened the African American, Latino and Native American communities, who account for a disproportionate number of COVID-19 cases and deaths,” the researchers said in a press release. “Greater likelihood of COVID-19 vaccine acceptance was associated with more knowledge about vaccines, less acceptance of vaccine conspiracies, elevated COVID-19 threat appraisals and being current with influenza immunization.”


A Third of Americans Say They Are Unlikely or Hesitant to Get COVID-19 Vaccine. UC Davis. Published January 29, 2021. Accessed February 1, 2021.

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