Vaccine confidence in America has reached a plateau. In order for the country to achieve herd immunity (70 to 85% of people vaccinated), between 10 and 15% of the population needs to change their mind about the shot. Without that change, coronavirus could remain a problem in the US for years to come.
What causes some people to hesitate? The most notable factor is political affiliation: those who identify as “right-leaning” in politics are 65% likely to vaccinate. Compare that with the other political affiliations, all of whom are about or over 90% likely to. Holdouts on the vaccine cite freedom of choice and concern regarding side effects of the shot. Despite the gap, all political groups believe the American population can achieve broad immunity to the virus and vaccination rates by healthcare providers remain at an all-time high with strong endorsements: 99%. If people are able to get the COVID-19 shot from their personal doctor, they are more likely to trust that the vaccine is safe for them to take.
Important ways to close the confidence gap are to offer incentives, increase convenience, and cultivate a positive dialogue surrounding the shot. While freedom to choose must remain paramount, incentives help “out[weigh] the risk or inconvenience of receiving a shot by meeting these people where they are,” according to Seth Duncan. West Virginia, a state with many vulnerable, elderly residents, is exploring financial incentives for those who agree to get the shot. As mentioned before, allowing local healthcare providers to administer the dose increases both convenience and confidence for those who may otherwise hesitate. Finally, when crafting a positive dialogue, it is important not to point fingers at conservative political party figures. Instead, one should emphasize the personal and economic benefits vaccination brings. Greater vaccine confidence benefits everyone.