Survey: Still Not Enough Americans Willing to Take COVID-19 Vaccines to Achieve Herd Immunity

SBB Research Group releases new results from its series of national surveys on the personal, economic and societal effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.


New survey results from SBB Research Group reveal concern about the distribution of vaccines for COVID-19 as well as an increased willingness to be vaccinated when it is available. Today’s findings are the latest of a research series from the Chicago-area investment firm, which studies a wide range of data to enhance its strategies. Consistent with other recent findings by SBB Research Group, views on these issues are often divided along political lines.


In late December 2020, Moderna and Pfizer released vaccines that are being distributed throughout the United States, and a number of other vaccine candidates are in clinical development. In the coming months, the focus will become how quickly the vaccine will be distributed to those at greater risk.


In the December 25-28 survey, respondents were asked how confident they are in the COVID-19 vaccine distribution efforts currently underway. Results reveal that 45 percent of the respondents are “somewhat” to “extremely” confident that the federal government will be able to “efficiently distribute a COVID-19 vaccine.” However, respondents are more confident in the ability of their state and local health departments to efficiently distribute the vaccines (73 percent and 74 percent of respondents, respectively).


What remains to be seen is whether a significant enough portion of the population get inoculated so the country can get the virus under control and return to normal. The World Health Organization (WHO) says that "[t]he percentage of people who need to be immune in order to achieve herd immunity varies with each disease. For example, herd immunity against measles requires about 95 percent of a population to be vaccinated [...]. For polio, the threshold is about 80 percent. The fraction of the population that must be vaccinated against COVID-19 to begin inducing herd immunity is not known." Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Dr. Anthony Fauci, says that if “75 percent to 80 percent of Americans are vaccinated in broad-based campaigns likely to start in the second quarter of next year, then the U.S. should reach the herd immunity threshold months later.”


In October 2020, slightly less than half of surveyed respondents (47 percent) indicated that they would get the vaccine if available. At that time, Americans were concerned about the safety of the vaccine and the approval process. In the intervening months, more Americans are now willing to get inoculated, but still not enough to meet either the WHO or NIAID herd immunity targets. SBB Research Group’s December 28, 2020 poll indicates that 61 percent of respondents would get a COVID-19 vaccine today if one were available to them.


These views varied strikingly by political party; Democrats were more than twice as likely to want the vaccine versus Republicans (78 percent to 35 percent, respectively, would “strongly agree” or “agree” to get a COVID -19 vaccine today). The gap between Democrats and Republicans has more than doubled from 19 percent in September 2020, to a 43 percent gap by the end of December 2020.


For more details about these findings, other COVID-19 survey results, and future updates from this research series, please visit www.covidoutlook.com.


Survey Methodology

The latest results were based on surveys of 302 respondents (154 Democrats, 90 Independents, 54 Republicans, 4 Other) from December 25-28, 2020.


All surveys were conducted online with respondents in the United States, and certain analyses were based on subsets of the survey population only. Additional details about the survey methods and their limitations are available at www.covidoutlook.com/methods.


This post first appeared on GlobeNewswire and is also available on Yahoo! Finance.