An Uncertain Public — Encouraging Acceptance of Covid-19 Vaccines

To understand public attitudes toward taking a Covid-19 vaccine and the factors likely to affect willingness to do so going forward, the authors examined 39 nationally representative, randomized polls with publicly available tabulations that were conducted between August 2020 and February 2021.

Though there is potential for a majority of Americans to take Covid-19 vaccines, many people are apparently still making up their minds. Information they receive in the next few months could determine their decisions. To help motivate the public, the authors believe information should account for three central features of public opinion evident in these polls:

  1. Public perceptions of effectiveness may not align with expert views. In particular, the public may expect that an effective Covid-19 vaccine means not only strong protection against the virus, but also immediate changes in their daily experience
  2. Safety is a key consideration in individual decision making. Safety-related issues are consistently the top reasons for hesitancy regarding Covid-19 vaccination cited in polls
  3. Willingness to be vaccinated varies among U.S. communities. Black adults are less likely than White adults to say they will take a Covid-19 vaccine

Last modified: April 5, 2022

Language: English