Key Findings

  • The latest analysis from the KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor, fielded after the omicron COVID-19 variant was first detected in the U.S., indicates that vaccinated and unvaccinated adults are having dissimilar reactions to news of the omicron variant. The quick response survey, which was conducted in a shorter field period and with a smaller sample than the monthly COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor, provides an early look at how the omicron variant may be changing public reaction and vaccine intentions.
  • Half of adults, including 52% of vaccinated adults, say they are worried they personally will get seriously sick from the coronavirus, up from 30% in November prior to the news of the omicron variant. Unvaccinated adults remain less concerned with about four in ten (42%) saying they are worried about getting seriously sick from the coronavirus.
  • The threat of the new variant may be encouraging some vaccinated adults to get a booster dose. Half of vaccinated adults who have not yet received a booster dose (27% of all vaccinated adults) say the news about the new omicron variant makes them more likely to get a booster dose. There is some confusion around the CDC recommendation that all vaccinated adults receive a booster dose with 23% of adults (including 21% of vaccinated adults) saying they are unsure about the CDC’s recommendation or incorrectly say the CDC has not recommended this.
  • On the other hand, unvaccinated adults remain relatively unmoved by the recent news of the omicron variant with a large majority of unvaccinated adults (87%) saying the news about the omicron variant does not make them more likely to get vaccinated. Twelve percent of unvaccinated adults say news of the omicron variant makes them more likely to get a vaccine.
  • When unvaccinated adults are asked what would convince them to get a COVID-19 vaccine, half say nothing could convince them. Much smaller shares offer that more research and transparency (12%) could convince them to get vaccinated. Even fewer say they would get vaccinated if they were required for work or if the vaccine became mandatory (6%), if they received large monetary incentive for getting the vaccine (5%), if their doctor recommended it (3%), or if the vaccine prevented 100% of all infections (3%).

Public Responds To Omicron Variant

On December 1, 2021, public health officials in California confirmed the first case of the Omicron variant was detected in an individual in the U.S. Since then, the variant has been detected in numerous states and public health officials are warning of increased transmission, hospitalizations, and potential deaths from the newest variant of the coronavirus. The latest from the KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor finds 50% of the public now say they are worried they will personally get seriously sick from the coronavirus, up from 30% in the November KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor (which was conducted prior to the news of the omicron variant and before the CDC issued guidance encouraging all adults to get a booster shot).

Reflecting differences found in previous KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitors, larger shares of Hispanic adults (64%) compared to White adults (43%) are worried about getting sick, half of Black adults (52%) report the same. Similarly, a larger share of vaccinated adults (52%) than unvaccinated adults (42%) say they are worried about getting sick, as do larger shares of Democrats (57%) compared to independents (46%) and Republicans (39%).

While Majorities Are Aware Of CDC Booster Recommendations, Some are Unaware

On November 29th, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expanded its recommendation that all adults should get booster shots, and has since expanded this for children ages 16 and 17. There is some confusion about the CDC’s recommendation with 23% of adults (including 21% of vaccinated adults) saying they are unsure whether it is recommended for all adults to get a booster dose or incorrectly say the CDC has not recommended this. Three in ten Hispanic adults (31%), Black adults (28%), and four in ten younger adults 18-29 (39%) are unaware of the CDC’s recommendations around booster doses, though majorities of adults in each of these groups say the CDC has recommended this. While partisanship plays a large role in predicting vaccination status and views of the pandemic, majorities across political parties are aware of the CDC recommendation regarding booster shots.

Omicron Variant May Lead To More Boosters, But DOes Not Move most of the Unvaccinated

With the CDC expanding recommendations for additional doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for all fully vaccinated adults, half of vaccinated adults (49%) now say they have received an additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. In addition, half of vaccinated adults who have not yet gotten a booster dose (27% of all vaccinated adults) say the news about the omicron variant makes them more likely to get a booster dose.

While omicron may be motivating some vaccinated adults to get a booster, it does not appear to be having the same effect in motivating most of the unvaccinated adults to get a first shot. A large majority of unvaccinated adults (87%) say news about the omicron variant does not make them more likely to get vaccinated, while one in eight (12%) say the recent news makes them more likely to get vaccinated.

When asked, what, if anything could convince those who remain unvaccinated to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, half of unvaccinated adults offer that nothing will convince them to get a COVID-19 vaccine (48%). One in seven offer that more research and transparency (12%) could convince them to get vaccinated. Even fewer say they would get vaccinated if they were required for work or if the vaccine became mandatory (6%), if they received large monetary incentive for getting the vaccine (5%), if their doctor recommended it (3%), or if the vaccine prevented 100% of all infections (3%).

In their own words: What, if anything, would convince you to get vaccinated for COVID-19?

“Nothing I feel like they are trying to kill us with the vaccine.” – 23 year-old female, Black, D.C., unvaccinated.

“If doctors could let me know if it will affect me okay since I have always had bad reactions to other virus shots.” – 61 year-old male, White, Texas, unvaccinated.

“Nothing, I believe in natural immunity. I am young and healthy and do not need a vaccine for something if I do get, my body can handle it.” – 32 year-old female, Hispanic, Connecticut, unvaccinated.

“Two million dollars.” – 24 year-old male, Black, South Carolina, unvaccinated.

“Jesus himself would have to come down from Heaven and speak with me personally.” – 32 year-old female, White, North Carolina, unvaccinated.

 



first appear on kff

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