A new poll found the US may be on track to vaccinate at least 70 percent of the adult population against Covid-19 by the summer.
In the latest survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 62 percent of respondents said they had received at least one dose of vaccine, up from 56 percent in April. At the same time, around a third of those classified as “waiting” stated that they had already made vaccine appointments or that they wanted to do so immediately.
Dr. William Schaffner, National Infectious Disease Foundation medical director and vaccine expert, found the results encouraging.
"I think there are many people on the fence worried about things moving too fast and possible side effects. However, those concerns will be allayed as more friends and acquaintances celebrate that they are being vaccinated," said Dr. Schaffner, who did not participate in the monthly survey, the Covid-19 Vaccine Monitor.
"You get a growing sense of comfort and security that 'people like me will be' vaccinated ', which he said was essential in building confidence in the vaccines.
The two populations that saw the largest increases in vaccination rates from April to May were Latino adults (from 47 percent to 57 percent) and adults without a college degree (from 48 percent to 55 percent).
The telephone survey of 1,526 adults was conducted in English and Spanish from May 18-25.
On May 10, the Food and Drug Administration approved Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine for children 12 years and older. The survey found that 40 percent of parents said either their child has already received at least one dose or will soon receive one.
However, the parents of younger children were much more cautious. Only about a quarter expressed willingness to have their children vaccinated once the shots were approved for them.
The results suggest that efforts to protect as many young students as possible from Covid-19 at the start of the school year may face obstacles.
While public health experts welcomed the continued improvement in vaccination rates, they found that the pool of most willing adults was shrinking.
"There is almost no low hanging fruit at this point, but there is a path to a slow but steady increase in vaccination rates through improved access, information, advocacy and incentives," said Drew Altman, president and chief executive officer of Kaiser Family Foundation.
President Biden's goal is to achieve 70 percent adult vaccine coverage by July 4th. Dr. Schaffner said he thought the goal was possible. "We have to work harder," he said.
The survey authors said the target was realistic because, in addition to 62 percent of adults who received at least one dose, another 4 percent said they wanted the shot as soon as possible and another 4 percent – a third of the " “wait and see” group said they had made an appointment or intended to do so within three months.
Despite the positive news, vaccination rates in adults who previously reported significant hesitation (7 percent) or outright rejection (13 percent) have remained unchanged for several months. And a third of the "wait and see" group said they would wait at least a year before taking the picture.
The survey also looked at attitudes towards vaccination incentives and the impact of government news about the shots. Financial incentives, like the million dollar lottery in Ohio for the newly vaccinated, receive a mocking blow.
However, the survey found that such rewards can be successful motivators for people to get the shots. Fifteen percent of non-vaccinated adults in the survey said their state's offer of $ 100 may make them reconsider, as well as free transportation and tickets to a sporting event or concert.
Earlier this month, people vaccinated at an event at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama were able to complete two winning laps on the track. (Cars and trucks, yes; motorcycles, no.) Similar incentives are being offered across the country.
About 20 percent of unvaccinated workers said they would be more likely to get the shots if their employer gave them paid time off for the dates and time needed to recover from side effects.
The report also showed that the public had some confidence in the government's health-related messages, although many were confused by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's announcement earlier this month that vaccinated people could largely avoid face masks and social distancing. Over half said that the C.D.C. were generally clear and accessible, but about 40 percent found them confusing and cloudy.
Notably, 85 percent of non-vaccinated people said that the new C.D.C. they no longer made ready to be vaccinated.
But another cohort viewed government approval as a potential launch vehicle. The survey found that a third of unvaccinated adults, including 44 percent in the “wait and see” group, said they would be more likely to receive a vaccine once it received full approval from the Food and Drug Administration. The vaccine makers Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech recently announced that they are making progress towards this goal.