As Death Rate Spikes to One per Minute, More Americans Willing to Try COVID Vaccine

doctor getting COVID-19 vaccine

Dr. Brian Thompson waits to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center in Los Angeles, Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

By Emiene Wright

December 15, 2020

More than 1 in 4 Americans now say they’ll get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it’s ready. Republicans’ enthusiasm nearly tripled as Trump talks less about the pandemic and focuses on his election loss.

Despite initial reluctance, Americans are gaining more trust in the COVID-19 vaccines. As medical workers around the nation are getting the first doses of Pfizer’s drug, the number of Americans who say they’re willing to be inoculated has doubled since September, according to an Axios-Ipsos poll released Tuesday. 

Among respondents to the weekly national poll, 27% say they will get the vaccine as soon as possible, a 14% jump from September. Another 11% plan to wait a few weeks to get inoculated; 25% say a few months; and 15% say they’ll wait a year or longer. 

Seniors, one of the most vulnerable populations, are driving the increase in vaccination enthusiasm. Of respondents 65 years and older, 40% say they’ll be first in line as soon as the drugs become available. In September, that number was just 15%. Black Americans remain the wariest group at 16% due to a continued pattern of abuse in the medical industry. Even that number shows an increased enthusiasm; it’s tripled from September’s 5%. Young people 18 to 29 saw an 8% jump in their willingness to take the vaccine immediately. Overall, Hispanic people showed the least change in confidence in the vaccine, from 17% in September to 22% now.

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Analyzing the results by political affiliation, pollsters found that Democrats’ willingness doubled from 15% to 31%, while Republicans’ nearly tripled from 9% to 25%. These results signal that a growing number of Republicans are more receptive to factual and scientific information concerning the pandemic.

Throughout the pandemic, President Donald Trump downplayed the severity of COVID-19, at several points promising it would disappear “like a miracle.” But in recent weeks, Trump has pivoted away from the pandemic to focus almost exclusively on disputing his loss to President-elect Joe Biden and unfounded claims of election fraud. Researchers believe this shift contributed to the rise in Republican willingness to be vaccinated.

Pollsters hope this trend continues. “The thing to be watching moving forward is, do we continue to see Republicans move back toward the rest of the country on wearing masks or believing the number of people who have died from COVID; or once these patterns of behavior have been created, do they stick?” said Chris Jackson, senior vice president for Ipsos Public Affairs.

According to the poll, 59% of Republicans believe that the coronavirus death count is overinflated, compared to 70% in September. This increased trust comes just in time, as the number of Americans dying from Covid surpasses 300,000. The deaths are also accelerating: 50,000 people died this past month alone, and experts say one person dies every minute from virus complications.

The Food and Drug Administration is prepared to authorize the use of a second vaccine on Friday. The upcoming vaccine, created by Moderna, is rated 94.1% effective and could give millions more protection against COVID-19 as early as Monday. There are 10 more vaccines in the development pipeline. 

READ MORE: The COVID Vaccine Is Here. The Trump Plan for Public Education? Not So Much.


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