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COVID vaccine acceptance: What will it take?

Trust In The Vaccine
Trust In The Vaccine

Now that doses of COVID-19 vaccine are rolling off the assembly lines and heading for our hospitals, will you roll up your sleeve and get in line?

A group of top public health experts are trying to answer that question by studying public perception of COVID risks and the vaccine.

A National Science Foundation study suggests that many Americans aren’t so accepting. In a six-month span, the likelihood of respondents getting the vaccine dropped significantly, from 54% in May to just 39% in October.

Lindsay Neuberger is an expert in health politics and communications at UCF who was part of the new study.

“Part of the hesitancy with the vaccine is people don’t know when it’s going to come. They don’t know if they’re going to be able to get it,” explained Neuberger, an associate professor at UCF.

While about 60% believed it will be available for many Americans in spring 2021, they had concerns about its safety, effectiveness and availability.

“There’s a reason behind it. And now the thing is, how do we understand that and then use the knowledge that we have about how to build effective messages,” Neuberger said.

Which sources of COVID information do Americans trust? Sixty-six percent of study participants said scientists. Trust in Dr. Anthony Fauci rose from 56% in May to 59% in October. Local school systems and local government fell in August and rebounded in October.

“If we have really trustworthy, credible sources that are available to people, I think that we will see a rebuilding of that trust over time,” Neuberger said.

Neuberger and fellow researchers have received additional NSF funding to look at vaccine perceptions following the election, and that study is continuing.

A newly released survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation finds 71% of the public would probably get a COVID-19 vaccine, up from 69% in September.