June 18, 2021 -- More than half of unvaccinated Americans would prefer to get a COVID-19 shot at their doctor’s office, according to the results of a new national survey.
The survey results also underscore the ongoing problem of vaccine hesitancy, showing that about a third of Americans don't plan to get a shot and 70% of the unvaccinated are hesitant to get one.
The preference to be vaccinated in a medical office was 3 to 5 times higher among unvaccinated Americans than were other strategies such as vaccinations at retail pharmacies or drug stores, community health centers, public health clinics, drive-up clinics, and large public vaccination sites
The survey also found that 1 of 3 people who expressed hesitancy about vaccination preferred to hear about the vaccine from their doctor. This recommendation would be more important to them than hearing from vaccinated friends and family members, hospitals, religious leaders, or elected officials
The nationwide poll of more than 12,000 people was conducted jointly by the African American Research Collaborative and the Commonwealth Fund. The survey has the largest sample of African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans of any study of COVID-19 vaccine use to date, according to these organizations
Racial disparities were evident in the breakdown of the unvaccinated. In total, 42% of the respondents had not been vaccinated; in contrast, 46% of Blacks, 47% of Latinos, and 44% of Native Americans were unvaccinated. Meanwhile, just 40% of whites and 31% of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) were in that category.
Nearly one-third of unvaccinated Black Americans and one-fifth of unvaccinated Native Americans who were vaccine-hesitant said the health care discrimination their communities have faced makes it hard to trust that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective.
Yet it was White Americans, more than any of the other racial group, who bought into the rampant misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines. Of the unvaccinated White respondents, 43% said they'd heard the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is dangerous and can create blood clots; 31% said that COVID-19 vaccines can give you COVID-19 and make you sick; and 26% said new variants make the vaccines ineffective.
More Education Needed
Nearly 40% of all respondents said they didn't know how to get the vaccine. Among Black people, 43% didn't know where to go.
Ray Block, PhD, an associate professor at Penn State University, said at a June 16 news conference that this showed the need for more public education.
The finding that people preferred to get shots in doctors' offices is important because policymakers can focus on getting vaccines into those practices, he said
"We think that enough people have been vaccinated that it could be possible for doctors' offices to take on some of the burden of doing this work," he said. "Doctors' offices are a place where the remaining unvaccinated people could go."
Even Republicans, who have been more vaccine hesitant than Democrats, would be more likely to choose a doctor's office than any other vaccine site, Block noted. In fact, 60% of Republicans expressed this preference, compared to 53% of Democrats and 47% of independents.
Other markers of respondents' interest in getting a shot in their doctor's office included being a rural resident, a woman, and being 65 years of age or older, the survey found.
The most potent message for persuading people to get vaccinated, according to the poll, was that "getting a COVID-19 vaccine can protect the lives of my family, friends, and those I love."
This message resonated among 44% of the unvaccinated.
Vaccine mandates were favored by just 50% of college students. When employed people were asked what their reaction would be if their employer asked them to get vaccinated, only 31% said they would agree with the decision. Interestingly, there was a diversity of responses from different racial groups, with 54% of AAPI respondents showing a positive response to the idea.
Forty-five percent of respondents said they'd be willing to take an annual COVID-19 booster shot. Slightly fewer White people and just 38% of Black people said they would. But there was a large amount of uncertainty in the responses.
If a combination COVID-flu vaccine were available as a single booster shot, the percentage of respondents willing to get it rose to 50%. Among the vaccinated, 70% of people were willing to get the booster.
Only 41% of parents were willing to let their children be vaccinated. Thirty-seven percent of both Black and white parents were willing to do this.
By contrast, 64% of all respondents endorsed the idea of requiring all teachers and school staff to get vaccinated before school starts in September. White parents had the lowest approval rate at 51%.