COVID-19 vaccine: From nurses to senior citizens, here's why some Americans don't want it

One man says he is so skeptical, he is more afraid of the vaccine than COVID-19 itself.
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Now that the coronavirus vaccine is officially here and being distributed across the country, how many Americans will actually take it?

According to the latest November poll from the Pew Research Center, 60 percent of Americans said they're "definitely" or "probably" willing to get a coronavirus vaccine. That's up from 51 percent reported in September.

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But, even with heightened confidence, a growing number of people still remain skeptical, including healthcare workers.

According to this latest national survey, two in ten people are still pretty certain they won't get the COVID-19 vaccine, even when more information is available.

"I'm not an anti-vaxxer, I'm pro vaccine safety," said Dana Ullman, who founded a national homeopathic research foundation based in Berkeley.

"Although I'm 69-years-old, I would probably actually prefer to get the real COVID then to get the COVID vaccine," said Ullman.

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"Why do you say that?" ABC7's Stephanie Sierra asked.

"I'm really concerned that these vaccines have been rushed to market...before we can really feel comfortable knowing what real safety evidence there is," Ullman said.

More than 12,000 Americans were polled by the Pew Research Center in November. 39-percent indicated they would not receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Though about half of this group, roughly 18-percent, said it's possible they could change their mind when more information is available.

Stanford infectious disease expert Dr. Grace Lee is a member of the Federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Lee understands some concerns raised over how quickly Pfizer and Moderna's vaccines were approved, but assured that hasn't hindered the safety the process.

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"We both have used routine processes to determine the safety and efficacy of these vaccines," said Lee. "Safety is a matter of benefits and risks. In the context of this pandemic, our feeling is that the benefits far outweigh the risks."

Dr. Lee emphasizes preliminary data indicate both vaccines are 95 percent effective.

Yet, there is still heightened fear among those first in line to receive the vaccine in long-term care facilities.

"It's a real issue for the frontline staff," said Mike Wasserman, who sits on California's vaccine advisory committee.

"It's incumbent upon us to take this opportunity to hear their concerns and respond to them rather than telling them what they have to do," he said.

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The National Association of Healthcare Assistants surveyed more than 3,100 Certified Nursing Assistants last month. Around 71-percent indicated they wouldn't take a COVID-19 vaccine, while just over 22-percent said they would.

"What are you seeing from your perspective," Sierra asked.

"What I'm seeing from my own institution and the colleagues I work with across the country is that the healthcare workforce has been tremendously enthusiastic about the ability to be able to receive vaccines," Lee said.

To put it in perspective, out of the 30,000 Stanford Healthcare workers, two thirds have responded. 80 percent are choosing to be vaccinated and only four percent declined.

If you have a question or comment about the COVID-19 vaccine, submit via the form below or here.


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