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Axios-Ipsos poll: Vaccine resistance grows

Data: Axios/Ipsos surveys. 1,100 U.S adults surveyed Aug. 28-31, 2020, and 1,008 U.S. adults surveyed Sept. 18-21,2020; Chart: Axios Visuals

The share of Americans eager to try a first-generation coronavirus vaccine dropped significantly in the latest installment of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index, as President Trump hyped suggestions that one could be ready before the election.

Why it matters: As the U.S. reaches a milestone of 200,000 deaths, this underscores the risks of politicizing the virus and its treatments.


  • The trend is taking place among Republicans as well as Democrats.
  • It's another warning of the potential difficulties health authorities will face in convincing enough Americans that a vaccine is safe and effective.

The big picture: Americans don't see the vaccine as a silver bullet right now. Many respondents in Week 25 of our national survey feel it's risky and at least want to wait to see how others do. And only half are prepared to pay out of pocket for it.

  • Just 13% say they'd be willing to try it immediately.
  • This all comes against the backdrop of an uncertain return-to-school experiment. One in three parents of schoolchildren says there already have been virus-related scares or outbreaks in their school district.

By the numbers: Six in 10 Americans now say they don't want to take a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it's available, up from 53% at the end of August.

  • Their reluctance also intensified. Only 9% now say they're "very likely" to take the first-generation vaccine, down from 17% in August; 33% say they're "not at all likely" to take it, up from 26%.
  • A plurality of respondents — 30% — said they plan to get it a few months after the vaccine first becomes available
  • 13% would try to get it immediately; 16% would get it after a few weeks, 18% said they'd likely wait a year or more and 23% said they wouldn't get it at all.
  • Men remain more likely than women to take the first generation vaccine, while Black Americans are about half as likely as Hispanics or whites to take it.

Between the lines: 38% of respondents expect their health insurance to pay for them to get the vaccine if they decide to get one; 11% think the federal government will cover costs; and only 4% think they'll have to pick up the tab themselves.

  • The biggest share expect to get it from their doctor (38%), followed by a pharmacy (17%), their employer (6%) or a drive-thru (5%).

What they're saying: Cliff Young, president of Ipsos U.S. Public Affairs, says growing concerns around the vaccine reflect a combination of scientists urging patience and the "political ping-pong" of President Trump's messaging and Democrats' pushback.

  • Democrats showed the biggest drop in those saying they're likely to try the vaccine as soon as it's available, down 13 percentage points to 43%. Republicans dropped eight points, to 41%.
  • Meanwhile, independents fell just two points, to 43%. That suggests they aren't as tuned in to partisan bickering or political news.
  • "These cues, whether red or blue, immediately elicit negative emotion from the other side," Young said — creating "a negative sort of sheen" over the idea of a vaccine that's distinct from the actual science.

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