One-third of Americans wouldn’t get COVID-19 vaccine even if it’s free, poll says

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As COVID-19 deaths continue to climb in the United States, a new Gallup Poll shows one in three Americans say they won’t get a vaccine even if it was free.

“I think people are worried because this vaccine is being developed at record speed, so they’re worried it may not be safe,” said Dr. Sara Cross, Associate Professor of Medicine/Infectious Diseases and Medical Education in the College of Medicine at UTHSC.

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The same poll shows this mistrust for medicine increases in the minority community.

The survey shows about four in ten non-white Americans wouldn’t get the vaccine even though the virus has had a greater impact on African Americans and Latinos.

Dr. Cross said that isn’t surprising.

“Because they have been discriminated against, they’ve been exploited historically, many, many times over. So I can’t blame the minority populations being less trusting of the medical community,” Cross said.

On the age spectrum, young people ages 18 to 29 (76%) and senior citizens (70%) were the most likely to take the vaccine.

If only a third of Americans get the vaccine, Dr. Cross says the country could still reach herd immunity.

“By the time it does come out, probably one in 20 Americans would have had COVID-19. That plus if 65 percent of the population will get vaccinated that is enough,” said Cross. ‘It’s because COVID-19 isn’t as contagious as a virus such as the measles. Measles is one of the most contagious viruses out there.”

If a vaccine is ready by early next year, Dr. Cross believes more people will be willing to take it.

“We will know someone who has died of COVID-19,” Cross said. “Most people will know someone and when it hits that close to home and there is something that can prevent it, protect us and not harm us.”

Dr. Cross said if people want to return to a sense of normalcy, one of the only ways we can do that safely is with a vaccine.

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