1 in 4 American adults don't want a COVID-19 vaccine: NPR

One in 4 American adults said they would refuse a COVID-19 vaccine outright if offered, according to a recent NPR/Marist poll.

The survey of 1,309 adults was conducted March 22-25. For more on methodology, click here

The poll also found 5 percent of respondents were "undecided" if they would get the shot. 

The number of people saying they would refuse a vaccine has fallen since NPR/Marist's polling began in August. The polling shows some groups more likely to refuse, such as Republican men, rural residents and adults under 45. However, the reasons for vaccine refusal are complex, with the number of Americans saying no relatively high across racial groups, economic classes and geographic regions.

Some researchers are worried that the reluctance could prevent the U.S. from reaching herd immunity. Ali Mokdad, PhD, professor of global health at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at Seattle-based University of Washington, told NPR that he expects the nation will have more vaccines than people willing to get the vaccine by May.

Samuel Scarpino, PhD, director of the emergent epidemics lab and assistant professor at Boston-based Northeastern University, believes about 80 percent to 85 percent of Americans need to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity. Based on current polling data, Dr. Scarpino says that tipping point remains out of reach. 

Drs. Scarpino and Mokdad both expect COVID-19 cases to drop over the summer when vaccinations and warm weather will slow virus spread. Dr. Mokdad said the improved conditions could paradoxically make vaccination more challenging because people may care less about getting vaccinated when infection levels are low, reports NPR. 

Dr. Scarpino said he thinks more contagious variants will dominate the fall and winter. Moderate vaccination rates will prevent a nationwide crisis, but regional outbreaks could still overwhelm hospitals, especially where vaccination rates are low, according to Dr. Scarpino.


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