WASHINGTON, United States — Most unvaccinated American adults don’t believe the COVID-19 vaccines are very effective and see the vaccines as a greater health risk than the virus itself, found a new survey published Wednesday.
A narrow majority (53 percent) of unvaccinated adults believe the vaccine poses a bigger risk to their health than COVID-19 itself while an overwhelming majority (88 percent) of vaccinated adults say that getting infected with COVID-19 is a bigger risk to their health than the vaccine, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) survey.
Most (57 percent) unvaccinated adults also say that the news has “generally exaggerated” the seriousness of the pandemic, while three-fourths of vaccinated adults say the news has been “generally correct” (53 percent) or has “underestimated” its seriousness (24 percent). Among those who say they will “definitely not” get a vaccine, 75 percent say the news is exaggerated.
“The sharply different views of the vaccinated and unvaccinated help to explain the contentiousness of ongoing policy debates about vaccine mandates,” said KFF in the report.
For example, vaccinated adults are far more likely than unvaccinated adults to say the federal government should recommend employers require vaccinations among their workers (68 percent vs. 16 percent). The public overall is split, with similar shares saying they think the federal government should recommend this (51 percent) and should not (45 percent).
Vaccinated adults also are more likely to say they wear masks in grocery stores and other indoor places (53 percent vs. 44 percent), at work (45 percent vs. 35 percent), or in crowded outdoor settings (45 percent vs. 35 percent).
“These differences are to a large degree driven by unvaccinated Republicans. Majorities of Republicans say they ‘never’ wear a mask outdoors in crowded outdoor places, at work, or in a grocery store. Democrats are more likely to report wearing a mask at least most of the time in all of these locations,” said KFF.
The health-focused nonprofit group surveyed 1,500 U.S. adults between July 15 and 27 for this chapter of its survey, and found little change among those with the most hardened attitudes about vaccination. About 14 percent of those surveyed say they will “definitely not” get vaccinated — the same proportion as in December.