The omicron variant accounted for more than 95% of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. in the last week of 2021, according to recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates. Although omicron is reportedly causing less severe illness than the delta variant, the increased level of transmission would keep hospitals overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. For now, the pandemic may be far from over. (See the states where COVID-19 cases are climbing fastest.)
To stop the spread of the virus, several cities have imposed proof of vaccination to enter public places, and some schools have returned to remote learning. Yet despite the availability of vaccines, some Americans remain dead-set opposed to getting the jab. Why?
To determine the reasons Americans are not getting vaccinated, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey taken over a two-week period ending Dec. 13, 2021. The survey gathered data on the reasons why people said they are not going to or not planning to receive the vaccine. Respondents were allowed to select multiple reasons for not getting vaccinated. Percentages are based on the estimated 35 million Americans 18 and older who responded “no” when asked if they received a COVID-19 vaccine and gave at least one reason.
Of the 250.2 million Americans who are 18 and over, an estimated 38.5 million, or 15.3%, have not gotten a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, per the Census Bureau’s survey. Approximately 20 million said they will definitely not get the vaccine.
Respondents could cite multiple reasons, including concerns about possible side effects, distrust of the government, and not believing COVID-19 is harmful. Two other reasons were believing one dose was enough and because they experienced side effects from the first dose. Accordingly, a percentage of respondents may be vaccinated with at least one dose and have decided not to receive a second one.
The CDC considers people as being fully vaccinated if they received at least two Moderna or Pfizer mRNA doses or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Recently, the CDC advised adults 18 or over who had previously received their primary vaccine series to get an mRNA booster. Those 12-17 may only get a Pfizer booster.
More than 55% of those who gave reasons why they aren’t vaccinated or fully vaccinated pointed to possible side effects as the reason for refusing the jab. After a dose, pain at the injection site, fatigue, fever, and nausea are common after-effects of the vaccine, the CDC reports. But those symptoms fade within days. Rarely have serious side effects been reported, the CDC notes.
A significant percentage of respondents (48%) also said they “Don’t trust COVID-19 vaccines” and many (40%) also said they “Don’t trust the government.”
With pandemic fatigue setting in, getting the vaccine-hesitant to overcome their trepidation can help drive the country back to normalcy. And one way to do that is by understanding their fears about the vaccine and countering those massages with the right information. Maybe the country can all follow the states fighting COVID-19 most successfully.