Although national polls conducted before vaccine distribution began suggested that many Americans were hesitant to receive COVID-19 vaccination, willingness to be immunization appeared to increase significantly at the end of 2020.

A report in the Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report notes that, from September to December 2020, intent to receive COVID-19 vaccination increased from 39.4% to 49.1% among adults and across all priority groups, while vaccine refusal decreased from 38.1% to 32.1%.

Researchers from the CDC advise, however, that despite decreases in nonintent from September to December, younger adults, women, non-Hispanic Black adults, adults living in nonmetropolitan areas, and adults with less education and income and without health insurance continue to have the highest estimates of hesitancy to receive COVID-19 vaccination.

“Ensuring high and equitable vaccination coverage among all populations, including by addressing reasons for not intending to receive vaccination, is critical to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and bring an end to the pandemic,” the authors write.

As of February 8, 2021, 59.3 million doses of vaccines to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) had been distributed in the United States, and 31.6 million persons had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the report.  

The article notes that, from September to December 2020, vaccination intent increased among all adults by approximately 10 percentage points and across all priority groups, with the largest increase in intent to be vaccinated among adults aged 65 years and older. In fact, nonintent decreased among all adults by 6 percentage points and across most sociodemographic groups.

“However, despite increases in vaccination intent since September, only about half of persons aged 18–64 years surveyed in December reported being very likely to receive COVID-19 vaccination, even among those who were essential workers and persons aged 18–64 years with underlying medical conditions,” the authors explain.

To examine perceptions toward COVID-19 vaccine and intentions to be vaccinated, from September 3 to October 1, 2020, the CDC conducted household panel surveys among a representative sample of about 3,500 U.S. adults. Vaccination intent—defined as being absolutely certain or very likely to be vaccinated—increased overall (from 39.4% to 49.1%), with the largest increase occurring among adults aged ≥65 years.

During December 18 to 20, meanwhile, the CDC sponsored questions on two probability-based household panel omnibus surveys—IPSOS KnowledgePanel and NORC Amerispeak—administered to 2,033 panelists to reassess COVID-19 vaccination intent and related perceptions.

If defined as being absolutely certain, very likely, or somewhat likely to be vaccinated, vaccination intent increased overall from September (61.9%) to December (68.0%), public health officials sate. Vaccination nonintent (defined as not intending to receive a COVID-19 vaccination) decreased among all adults (from 38.1% to 32.1%) and among most sociodemographic groups.

Intent to receive COVID-19 vaccine increased:
• among adults aged ≥65 years by 17.1 percentage points (from 49.1% to 66.2%),
• among essential workers by 8.8 points (from 37.1% to 45.9%), and
• among adults aged 18 to 64 years with underlying medical conditions by 5.3 points (from 36.5% to 41.8%).

Many of the groups expressing hesitancy have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, including Black persons and those with lower educational attainment, the article points out, adding, “Because many of these groups are at increased risk for COVID-19–associated morbidity and mortality, COVID-19 vaccination is important for protecting the health of these populations and reducing health inequities.”

The authors recommend continuing to promote vaccine confidence by tailoring information to address concerns of individual persons and communities.

“Health care providers are known to be a trusted source of information about vaccines for many persons and can use CDC-recommended guidance to have effective conversations with patients about the need for vaccination,” they add. “Ensuring high and equitable vaccination coverage in all populations is critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19 and bringing an end to the pandemic.”

The content contained in this article is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Reliance on any information provided in this article is solely at your own risk.

« Click here to return to Vaccine Update.