First Wave of Vaccine Administration Could Include Grocery Workers; Survey Finds Vaccine Hesitancy

As COVID-19 vaccines ship out—including, now, Moderna’s vaccine—there’s growing worry that not enough people will take them.

One study, published in JAMA Network Open, explains that ending the pandemic via vaccination requires sufficient uptake across society, as with most diseases. With COVID-19 specifically, CDC reports that it is unknown what percentage of people would need to get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity, as that percentage varies across diseases. However, in order to ensure that enough people receive the vaccine to protect those who can’t get it for medical reasons, mandates are being considered.

The study surveyed 2730 U.S. adults regarding intention to receive the vaccine and thoughts on a vaccine mandate. Specifically, respondents were asked about the acceptability of states requiring adults and children to get the COVID-19 vaccine, and of employers requiring employees to get the vaccine. The findings:

  • 61.4% of respondents indicated they would likely get a COVID-19 vaccine
  • Republicans and Independents were significantly less likely to get vaccinated than Democrats, with Republicans at 44.3%, Independents at 58.4%, and Democrats at 76.6%.
  • Black respondents were significantly less likely than non-black respondents to get vaccinated, at 43.6% vs. 63.7%, respectively.
  • 48.6% of respondents felt it was acceptable to require vaccination for children attending school; 38.4% regarded it as unacceptable.
  • 40.9% felt that state mandates for adults were acceptable, while 44.9% felt they were unacceptable.
  • Employer mandates, however, were viewed more favorably, with 47.7% feeling that those mandates were acceptable and 38.1% feeling that they were unacceptable.
  • Individuals likely to get the vaccine felt that mandates were more acceptable overall. From a political point of view, Democrats were more likely to feel that mandates were acceptable. From a racial point of view, non-Black respondents were more likely to accept mandates. Those with a bachelor’s degree or higher were more likely to find mandates acceptable than those without. No gender differences were observed.

The study concluded that there are locations where vaccine mandates may be ineffective or could prompt backlash. Employer-enforced mandates didn’t achieve majority acceptance, but were by-and-large more accepted than state mandates.

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The researchers also noted that responses could change as efficacy and safety evidence for vaccines develops, and suggested that public health efforts should be aimed at making vaccines accessible.

A report released earlier this month from The Associated Press-NORC Center at the University of Chicago found similar results, regarding hesitancy across races, with only 24% of Black respondents and 34% of Hispanics planning to get vaccinated. The Chicago Tribune suggested that this could be due to broad distrust in government and medicine. Myths and misinformation regarding the vaccine—such as the conspiracy theory that the vaccine contains microchips—haven’t helped.

As of December 21, there have been 17,790,376 COVID-19 cases in the U.S., and 316, 844 deaths, according to the CDC.

NJ.com reports that a federal advisory panel has put essential workers and people 75 and older next in line for COVID-19 shots, as phase 1b. Those essential workers comprise around 30 million people, including firefighters, police, teachers, daycare workers, U.S. Postal Service Workers, and public transit workers. Also included in this phase: Those who work in food and agriculture, and grocery workers.

Phase 1c—which could start in February—would include those between the ages of 16 and 64 with high-risk conditions, adults aged 65-75, and 57 million of those who work in food service, transportation and logistics, construction, IT and communication, energy, media, legal, and waste. NJ.com reports that approximately 110 million people fall under the high-risk category due to pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or asthma, as well as those who are immunocompromised.

Walgreens and CVS are predicting that the vaccine will be available to the public sometime in the spring, according to the Tribune.

Do you intend to get the vaccine? What are your thoughts? Feel free to share them in the comments below.

12/21/2020 Update: FMI, a food industry association, has responded to CDC’s inclusion of grocery and food and ag workers in phase 1b. In a statement, Leslie G. Sarasin, President and CEO, stated: “Food industry workers have gone above and beyond in demonstrating their continued resilience to meet unprecedented expectations and demand.  Beyond the deep cleaning, shelf replenishing and physical distancing tasks, the pandemic has offered a new perspective on how essential the food industry worker is to the function of society. Supermarket pharmacies will be a safe, convenient place for shoppers to receive their COVID-19 vaccinations, and in the interim, our members are providing healthy meal solutions, cleaning products and a full range of pharmacy services to support Americans’ health and well-being…Prioritizing COVID-19 vaccinations for these frontline workers will help keep Americans nourished by protecting the nation’s supply of food and essential consumer goods.”

 

Note: Statistics regarding how many people are willing to take the vaccine, how many feel it is acceptable to require children to get the vaccine, and how many felt that state mandates for adults were acceptable were originally misquoted. They have been corrected.