Researchers at the University of Michigan say that as many as two thirds of older adults in the U.S. would like to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
In an October survey, the university’s National Poll on Healthy Aging heard from 1,556 Americans between 50 and 80 years old about their opinions on immunization against the coronavirus.
Depending on the wording of the question, as many as 66% of respondents said they would get vaccinated. But only 20% said they would do so as soon as a vaccine became available.
“It’s really important that we understand what the barriers might be, or what their perspectives might be about why they might have reservations about getting vaccinated,” said Erica Solway, an associate director of the National Poll on Healthy Aging.
46% of respondents, for example, expressed discomfort with the idea of receiving a vaccine that was developed quickly, suggesting that ideas about safety and effectiveness could influence their thinking.
Solway says doctors and public health officials could help address these concerns; in addition to their own research, those are the resources respondents said they’d rely on when deciding whether to get vaccinated.
“What people are hearing around them, among the people in their social circle, may play an important role as well,” Solway added.
While willingness to get vaccinated is “obviously lower than one would hope,” Solway says new effectiveness data might change some minds.
Last week, the drug company Pfizer applied for an emergency use authorization from the FDA after showing that its vaccine candidate was more than 90% effective. The company Moderna released similar early results, and says it plans to submit an application for its vaccine candidate soon.
Guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say people over 65 years old should be among the first group to get vaccinated.