After a vaccine presenting as 90% effective in stage three clinical trials was announced by Pfizer on Monday, 76% of Britons and 66% of Americans say they would be happy to be vaccinated against COVID-19. This likelihood to be vaccinated is supported by the degree of confidence in the vaccination for being safe (GB 75%, US 66%) and effective (GB 79%, US 70%). Respectively 19% (GB) and 25% (US) seem reluctant to have a COVID-19 vaccine.
However, the number of people who say they would be happy to get vaccinated, and the degree of certainty among those likely to get vaccinated, has decreased since our previous research. In June, 78% of Britons said they would get vaccinated. Those saying they would ‘definitely’ get vaccinated has fallen from 50% in June to 43% this week. In the US the drop is sharper: In June, 71% said they would be happy to get vaccinated, compared to 66% now. 47% said in June they would ‘definitely’ get vaccinated, compared with 30% saying ‘definitely’ this week .
Why are people reticent?
This hesitation might be explained by the recent announcement, making it obvious that any vaccine against COVID-19 will be a new one. 53% of Britons and 55% of Americans are worried about the safety of coronavirus vaccines because of the speed with which they are being developed and produced.
In the US, 41% are more worried about receiving a vaccine whose full effects are not yet known, versus 36% who are more worried about catching and spreading coronavirus. In Britain, perceptions between those two risks are reversed, with more people concerned about catching and spreading the virus (31%/47%).
In addition, only 34% in GB and 27% in the US consider that the COVID-19 pandemic is so serious that in order to save time (and lives), it would be acceptable to take slightly fewer precautions than usual to test and distribute a vaccine.
These questions raised by the speed of implementation will be considered together with two factors known as being influential in prevention behaviours:
- Perceived likelihood to contract the disease: 47% in GB and 43% in US say that they consider themselves likely to contract coronavirus without vaccination
- Perceived seriousness of the disease: 57% in GB and 53% in the US consider that contracting COVID-19 could seriously affect their health.
In the US, 42% of the respondents are confident that they can prevent themselves from getting the coronavirus without vaccination, while only 28% of Britons share this confidence. However, a majority in both countries (75% in GB and 61% in US) believe that a coronavirus vaccine is the best way to help life get going again.
Trust in public bodies
It remains that the condition of development and distribution of a future vaccine may affect the propensity of the population to get vaccinated. In both countries, there’s no clear majority in favour of a compulsory vaccination, be it for children or for the general population. Therefore, confidence in public authorities and prescriptions will be key to get to a sufficient vaccination rate in the population. In this respect, the situation differs significantly in both countries surveyed:
- 68% in GB and 62% in US trust the government to make the right decisions about making a vaccine against coronavirus available.
- 57% in GB are confident that a vaccine will not be dangerous if proposed by the public authorities. Only 40% think the same in the US.
- 62% in GB and only 50% in the US put their national health authorities among the three most reliable sources of information about a COVID-19 vaccine. Personal doctors and doctors who speak in the media are the other most trusted prescribers.
A total of 1,000 interviews were conducted online in each country among adults living in Great Britain and the USA on 10 and 11 November using Kantar’s Accelerated Answers service across respondents on the Kantar Profiles Network. All interviews were conducted as online self-completion.