It has been said lately, over and over again, that news of highly effective coronavirus vaccines allow us to finally see a light at the end of a very long tunnel. But, it also has been said, not as a killjoy but as a realistic reminder, that we’re all still in that tunnel. The more people who take the virus and the corresponding mitigation efforts seriously over the next few months, the less the vaccines will have to reckon with. 

As of this writing, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been shipped to destinations across the United States, with the first inoculations for health care workers and elderly care home residents already underway. Not to mention, Moderna’s vaccine is slated to be approved later this week. The light at the end of the tunnel, in this case an ambitious mass vaccination campaign to end the pandemic, is very visible. 

That light is even brighter according to new CivicScience data from December, which show eagerness to receive the coronavirus vaccine has only continued to improve since it was last reported in mid-November

There’s been a drastic month-over-month increase in the percentage of people who would get the COVID-19 vaccine ‘right away:’ a 12 percentage point uptick to date, in fact (27% in November compared to December’s 39%). And with that, a significant dent in the number of people who say they wouldn’t receive the vaccine at all (only 13%). Still, 12% understandably aren’t sure yet.

What’s more is a good chunk of those surveyed are reporting more confidence in the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines than they were just a week or so ago. Reports of not only successful clinical trials, and perhaps the images in the news of Americans receiving the first Pfizer doses, has landed well. If they’re doing it, it must be safe. 

Vaccine Concerns

Still, concern about the vaccine remains. Sixty-seven percent of more than 3,000 U.S. adults surveyed have at least one concern about the coronavirus vaccine.

Namely, Americans are most concerned about the immediate side effects, potential for long-term effects, and the general effectiveness of the vaccine.

There is some, but very little, concern regarding not really needing to receive the vaccine due to personal risk assessment, as well as worrying that the vaccine itself will give you the coronavirus.

Nearly half of people who would get the vaccine at all are concerned about side effects, and even more (65%) of those who aren’t sure yet, likely one of the reasons they’re on the fence to begin with. For those working to make people comfortable with receiving the vaccine, it will be important to message the known side effects so people know what to expect post-shot. 

The data also revealed that the higher the income bracket someone is in, the less concerned they are about the side effects of the coronavirus vaccine. Nearly half of those in the $50k or less income bracket are concerned about side effects – the most out of all their counterparts. Perhaps this is due, at least in part, to job type and the ability to take off if side effects are bad.

Vaccine Hesitancy Continues to Rise

In general, the concerns that exist about the new vaccine among the general population come as no surprise: hesitancy to receive vaccines of any kind has continued to rise throughout 2020.

This is showcased further by comparing opt-in timelines for the new coronavirus vaccine with general vaccine comfort. While those who would get the COVID vaccine as soon as possible are the most comfortable with vaccinations overall, the data is quite nuanced. 

COVID-19 Vaccine Opt-in Demographics

Many demographics play a role in the propensity to get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as one is able to.

The older one is, the more likely they are to want to receive the coronavirus vaccine as soon as they have the opportunity. Younger age groups are more likely to say they do not want to receive the vaccine at all. 

Men are notably more likely than women are to want to get the vaccine right away. It appears women are more likely to say they wouldn’t get it at all, or express uncertainty.

Money, as it always does, plays a big role too. Those who make $150k or more annually are nine percentage points more likely than those who make under $50k to say they’d get the vaccine right away. While age may be the proxy here, there’s likely more under the surface, like concern for side effects, as previously mentioned.

Americans without health insurance coverage are overwhelmingly more likely to be unsure about whether they will get the vaccine or not, likely due to concern about being able to cover the cost.

Hand-in-hand is the correlation between doctor visits and coronavirus vaccination comfort. Those who have not been to the doctor or other medical appointment in the last year are the most likely to say they will not get the coronavirus vaccine. What’s interesting is that those who have been 10 or more times are unsurprisingly the most likely to get the vaccine right away, but also are the second most likely to say they will not get the vaccine. 

Occupation and Job Status

When comparing one’s current work situation to coronavirus vaccine opt-in, remote workers stand out as being considerably more likely to want to get vaccinated for COVID-19 right away. In some cases, perhaps this may mean they want to get back to the office or their daily routines.

CivicScience data also observes the most hesitancy from those in sales or operations occupations, and we see those in service roles wanting to wait many more months than their counterparts to get theirs. As service workers are deemed essential and come in contact with the public (and cannot work from home to ride out the storm) this may be a wrinkle when it comes to getting everyone vaccinated.

Virus Concern and Stocking Up

Since March, stocking up on essential household items has been a standard among a large part of the population due to virus concerns. It has also correlated with virus concern in general: those who show grave concern about the course of the pandemic and therefore about being in public are more likely to stock up on items.

This is mirrored in the vaccine data as well. Those who are hoarding goods are more likely than their counterparts to want to get the vaccine as soon as they have the chance. 

Looking further, those who aren’t stocking up are twice as likely to say they won’t get the vaccine at all.

This goes for items like hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, toilet paper, and paper towels specifically: those buyers are more likely to want to get the vaccine right away. However, the data also reveals that these buyers are more likely to be in both the ‘right away’ and ‘6 or more months’ groups in terms of their own inoculation timeline. 

COVID in Your Orbit

Those who would get the vaccine are more likely than those who would not to know someone – either in their household or not – who was diagnosed with the coronavirus. Interestingly though, those who aren’t sure about the vaccine and whether or not they would get it are just as likely to know someone as those who want to opt in.

This data point is the perfect example of how varied this issue is, and puts a bow, so to speak, on the entire study. While most Americans plan to get the vaccine at some point (75% of U.S. adults), which is an encouraging data point in the effort to end the pandemic, there is still a good bit of uncertainty, spurred by specific concerns about the effects (and effectiveness) of the vaccine itself.