Dec. 7, 2020 -- Sixty percent of people questioned in November said they would “definitely or probably” take the coronavirus vaccine if it were available today, up from 51% in September, according to a study published by the Pew Research Center.

Pew said 39% of people polled said they definitely or probably won’t take the vaccine, though almost half that group said they might change their minds if more information becomes available. And 21% of people polled said they don’t intend to take the vaccine and are “pretty sure” more information won’t change their minds.

While an exact threshold is not known, Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said recently that 75% to 85% of the population will need to get the vaccine to stop the spread of the virus.

The poll found differences in willingness to get vaccinated based on political affiliation, race, and ethnicity.

Coronavirus Vocabulary: Herd ImmunityWebMD's Chief Medical Officer, John Whyte, MD, explains "herd immunity."72


DR. JOHN WHYTE: Coronavirus has

been teaching us a lot

about infectious disease

and public health.

But it's also teaching us a lot

of new words.

I'm going to help you talk


It really is learning

a new language.

Let's start with herd immunity.

What is herd immunity?

Well, herd immunity occurs when

a sufficient percentage

of the population

becomes immune to an infection

like COVID-19

so that everyone's protected,

even those that don't have


Most experts say the best,

safest way to reach herd

immunity is through a vaccine.

A more controversial way

is through natural infection.

This is when a sufficient number

of people get sick and recover

so they produce antibodies that

protect them against getting

sick again for At least

some period of time.

About 70% of the US population,

more than 200 million people,

would have to recuperate

from COVID for herd immunity

to kick in.


John Whyte, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer, WebMD./delivery/aws/ac/33/ac33820c-81bb-361e-8329-c6e4e2248f3a/COVID_Vocabulary_Herd_Immunity_,4500k,2500k,1000k,750k,400k,.mp410/15/2020 12:00:0018001200COVID_Vocabulary_Herd_Immunity_1800x1200/webmd/consumer_assets/site_images/article_thumbnails/video/covid19-images/COVID_Vocabulary_Herd_Immunity_1800x1200.jpg091e9c5e8201f365

According to the poll, 69% of Democrats said they’d get vaccinated, compared to 50% of Republicans. Eighty-four percent of Democrats said the outbreak is a major threat to the U.S. population as a whole, compared to 43% of Republicans.

Only 42% of Black Americans polled said they would definitely or probably take the vaccine, compared to 61% of White Americans, 63% of Hispanic Americans, and 83% of Asian Americans. Willingness to take the vaccine also increased with family income and education level.

Pew polled 12,648 U.S. adults Nov. 18-29, and it’s not clear if a flood of news about vaccine development influenced participants. By the time the poll was taken, Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna had both announced their vaccines had shown an efficacy of around 95%. The FDA will vote Dec. 10 on an emergency use authorization request from Pfizer and Dec. 17 for Moderna.

There’s widespread skepticism about being at the front of the line for the vaccine.

“While public intent to get a vaccine and confidence in the vaccine development process are up, there’s considerable wariness about being among the first to get a vaccine: 62% of the public say they would be uncomfortable doing this. Just 37% would be comfortable,” Pew said.

There’s also pessimism about the future of the pandemic. The poll said 71% think the worst of the outbreak is still to come, up from 59% of people polled in June.

Fifty-four percent of people polled said they personally know somebody who has been hospitalized or died from COVID-19. Among Black Americans polled, 71% personally know somebody who was hospitalized or who died.

In the United Kingdom, there’s also skepticism about a vaccine.

An Opinium poll found that 35% of participants said they’re unlikely to get a vaccine, with 48% worrying it will not be safe, 47% worrying it won’t be effective, and 55% worrying it will have side effects, according to The Guardian.

The UK's medical regulator became the first in the world to authorize use of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine last week. Vaccinations are expected to begin this week.

WebMD Health News Brief


Pew: “Intent to Get a COVID-19 Vaccine Rises to 60% as Confidence in Research and Development Process Increases.”

The Guardian: “One in three ‘unlikely to take Covid vaccine.’”

Moderna: "Moderna Announces Primary Efficacy Analysis in Phase 3 COVE Study for Its COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate and Filing Today with U.S. FDA for Emergency Use Authorization."

The New York Times: “Moderna will apply for emergency F.D.A. vaccine approval and says first injections could begin by Dec. 21.”

Medscape Medical News.

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