Jennifer Barrett is the senior editor for Drug Topics® and Total Pharmacy®.
Survey responses indicated that almost 7 in 10 Americans are willing to get a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available.
Results of a recent study showed that approximately 7 in 10 Americans are willing to get a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine once available.
This interest is higher than what is typically seen for other vaccines, such as the flu vaccine; however, the investigators noted concerning gaps. For example, Black Americans, who have been disproportionately affected by the virus, were less likely to report interest in receiving the vaccine. A participant’s political leaning also played a role in vaccine acceptance, according to the findings.
The study, which was published in Vaccine, included an online survey of more than 2000 adults ages 18 and older in the United States in May 2020. The survey asked participants about their willingness to be vaccinated and 11 factors that could influence that decision. Out of 2006 respondents, 1374 (69%) said they would “definitely” or “probably” get vaccinated. The survey results also showed that 17% were “not sure” and 14% were “probably” or “definitely” not willing
Participants indicated they were more willing to get vaccinated if they thought their health care provider would recommend the vaccine or if they reported higher levels of perceived likelihood of becoming infected with COVID-19 in the future. Participants who identified as moderate or liberal in their political beliefs were also more willing to receive the vaccine. Those who reported a higher level of perceived potential vaccine harms were less likely to indicate willingness, according to the study.
Additionally, non-Latinx Black Americans were less likely to report willingness to receive the vaccine, with only 55% expressing willingness to get vaccinated. However, the investigators noted that vaccine acceptability was high among the Latinx population.
“If a vaccine becomes available, ensuring vaccine uptake among these populations may help lessen these existing disparities related to COVID-19,” the investigators wrote.
The investigators noted that several states have already indicated that health insurers would be required to cover COVID-19 vaccination with no cost-sharing following vaccine availability; this may address financial barriers and facilitate vaccine uptake.
The study also gauged the participants’ attitudes on cost; the most that participants indicated they would pay out-of-pocket for a COVID vaccine was $0 (30%), $1-$19 (15%), $20-$49 (20%), $50-$99 (14%), $100-$199 (10%), and $200+ (11%).
As the reality of an available vaccine gets closer, additional factors influencing uptake may include cost and the number of doses required, according to the investigators.
Under an emergency authorization issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) this past week, all state-licensed pharmacists and pharmacy interns will be allowed to order and administer COVID-19 vaccines.
This new authority, combined with their accessibility to their communities, places pharmacists in an ideal position to provide education and opportunities for immunization once the vaccine becomes available. A recent survey conducted by the National Community Pharmacists Association, which polled nearly 800 community pharmacy owners and managers, revealed that 86% said they plan to offer the COVID-19 vaccines in their pharmacies.
Once a vaccine is rolled out, pharmacists will play a critical role in the mobilization of vaccination efforts. Further education may be needed to reach high-risk populations and those who may be reluctant to receive the vaccine.
“You hear a lot of talk of vaccination and the benefits of herd immunity, the idea that when enough people have resistance to the virus it reduces the threat to the entire population,” lead investigator Paul Reiter, PhD, MPH, an associate professor of health behavior and health promotion, said in a press release. “At 70%, we may or may not get there.”