Vaccine Hesitancy: A Major Barrier to Getting Back to Normal

Being quarantined for almost a year, many of us have had conversations about the first non-socially-distant experience we’ll have once we’ve all been vaccinated. Attending a concert, taking a vacation more than 50 miles from your home, seeing a ball game, going to eat indoors at a restaurant, or even having your first major family reunion in a while. Fantasizing about these blissful pre-COVID-era staples has helped many of us through a particularly difficult time separated from the people, places, and things that we love.

So, most people were surprised to learn that only half of Americans say they will get the COVID-19 vaccine once it becomes available to them. Our latest “Back-to-Normal Barometer” survey found a definite lack of enthusiasm in a majority of Americans’ willingness to get vaccinated. Out of those who responded that they will not get vaccinated, 60 percent cited their justification as “don’t believe a vaccine is safe for them to take”, and 40 percent of people simply don’t think a vaccine will work.

Started in April 2020 as a partnership between our respective firms, Sports & Leisure Research GroupEngagious, and ROKK Solutions, the barometer is an ongoing study that focuses on overall consumer attitude changes and impressions during the pandemic. Incorporating the voice of today’s consumer, it delivers crucial insights to guide future business decision-making which has been particularly useful for organizations navigating the pandemic.

Along with the 60 percent who don’t believe the vaccine is safe and the 40 percent who don’t think it’ll work, additional responses included (Respondents could choose more than one answer):

  • 32 percent said, “I believe that with the new variants of COVID-19, the vaccines are less effective;”

  • 25 percent said, “I believe that the pandemic is blown out of proportion;”

  • 14 percent said, “I believe that I am at low risk to contract COVID;”

  • 13 percent said, “I believe that if I get sick, it’s no big deal;”

  • 12 percent said, “I’m put off by needles.”

Throughout the 18 waves of the Barometer, we continue to see a significant division of opinion across the American population. Continuing hesitance regarding COVID-19 vaccinations is just another illustration of the challenge we face in getting back to normal. Getting half the country to take the vaccine will be the easy part. The hard part will be getting three-quarters or more to do so.

While millions of Americans have received the COVID-19 vaccine, much more work needs to be done to convince many millions more that the vaccines are safe and effective. The solution to vaccine hesitancy? Education. Ensuring people receive the latest information about the vaccine and addressing the myths associated with it are crucial to our nation recovering from COVID-19. Additionally, tackling barriers to vaccine access is necessary for making sure that recovery from this pandemic is equitable for all.

Many of our subscribers are doing remarkable work in tackling these issues nationwide. Whether helping out on the frontlines or donating to vaccine research initiatives, organizations are stepping up to do their part.  We will continue to monitor developments through our survey on whether or not Americans who are hesitant to receive the vaccine can be convinced to do so.