TAMPA, Fla. — Millions of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have gone into the arms of people across the country. However, at the same, research is shedding light on some people who may still be hesitant to get in line for a shot.
The latest CDC data shows more than 38 million people in the United States have gotten one or more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Every day that you wait and not get it, you’re increasing your chances that you’re going to get the infection,” said Dr. Thomas Unnasch, a Distinguished USF Health professor.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s ongoing research project, 31% of the public say when a COVID-19 vaccine is available to them for free, they’ll “wait until it has been available for a while to see how it is working for other people” before getting vaccinated themselves.
The research shows that the "wait and see" group has expressed concerns about vaccine safety and long-term effects, while also wanting to know more about side effects and how well the vaccine works.
“We have a great vaccine. The Moderna and the Pfizer vaccines are among the most effective vaccines that have ever been developed,” said Unnasch. “They are completely safe. They ran a full safety profile and a full phase two clinical trial on them, and there were tens of thousands of individuals who were tested with really no problems whatsoever.”
Public health experts have also said we need a high percentage of the population vaccinated in order to reach herd immunity.
“If we’re going to really beat this doggone thing, we’re going to have to get to 75 or 80 percent of the population who are going to be vaccinated,” said Unnasch. “So that means that with 31 percent taking a ‘wait and see’ attitude, we’re not going to be able to reach herd immunity until one third to one-half of those people finally decide, ‘Hey, it’s good enough,’ and then go and get the shot.”
Of the “wait and see” group, about 60 percent said they’d be more likely to get vaccinated if the quickest way for life to return to normal is for most people to get the vaccine, while almost 40 percent said they’d be more likely if a close friend or family member got the shot.
“We have the tools now, and they’re rolling out, and let’s just all get it done, and then we can put this behind us and not have to live in fear anymore,” said Unnasch.