When Joe Biden took office in January, he pledged to administer 100 million vaccine doses within his first 100 days, a goal he then revised upwards to 200 million doses. This target was reached in April, leading to the extension of vaccine eligibility to everyone aged sixteen and older. In addition, following the recent approval of the Pfizer vaccine for children, the US’ vaccination efforts will soon also include those aged 12 to 15.
The latest research conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies in the United States finds that a large majority (76%) of Americans are satisfied with the United States’ vaccination programme so far, whereas 24% say they are not satisfied. These results mark a slight increase in positive evaluations compared to March 2021, when 71% of respondents were satisfied and 29% were dissatisfied.
Satisfaction with the vaccination programme at both the federal and the state level is high across age groups but further increases with age: whereas 66% of 18-to-24-year-olds are satisfied with the US vaccination programme, 82% of those aged 65 and over are. This discrepancy might be a reflection of the fact that older respondents are more likely to have already received their vaccine than younger voters (since they have been eligible for longer), thus leading to higher levels of satisfaction among those who are older.
This high level of satisfaction also extends to the state level: 74% of Americans are satisfied with their state’s vaccination programme (up from 66% in March), while 26% say they are not satisfied (down from 34% in March).
When asked who deserves the most credit for the United States’ vaccination success so far, a plurality of Americans (36%) believe that Joe Biden deserves the most credit, while 27% say Donald Trump. Meanwhile, 13% of respondents say both should be equally credited, and a further 14% say neither should be credited, while 10% say they don’t know.
Overall, however, satisfaction with the US vaccination programme extends across party lines. While a degree of partisan division is evident from the fact that Biden voters are more likely to be satisfied with the national (88%) and their state’s (83%) vaccination programmes, significant majorities of Trump voters also declare themselves satisfied with the vaccination programme at the national level (65%) and the level of their state (68%).
Despite the overall satisfaction of Americans with their vaccination rollout, a majority of 56% of Americans who have not yet received a coronavirus vaccine say they do not intend to get vaccinated if a vaccine becomes available to them at little to no financial cost within the next year. Meanwhile, 26% say they will get vaccinated, and 18% say they don’t know. These figures mark a reversal of the situation we observed in March, when 52% said they would get themselves vaccinated, as opposed to 33% who said they would not, and 15% who said they did not know.
Yet, these figures do not necessarily point to a massive increase in vaccine scepticism. As the vaccination rollout progresses, fewer people will respond that they have not yet received their vaccine, increasing the relative proportion of those opposed to coronavirus vaccinations among the total of those not yet inoculated.
However, even among respondents who do intend to get themselves vaccinated, a majority of 68% now say it matters to them which specific vaccine they receive, while 32% say it does not matter to them as long as the vaccine has been approved for use in the US. In March, by contrast, 39% of respondents said it mattered to them which vaccine they receive, while a majority of 61% said in March that it did not matter to them.
This increased hesitancy is reflected in voters’ opinions on specific vaccines. While a majority of Americans say they would feel safe taking the Pfizer/BioNTech (59%) and Moderna (61%) vaccines, public opinion has shifted on the third vaccine currently authorised in the United States, which is the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Whereas in March 61% of respondents said they would feel safe receiving this vaccine, this proportion has dropped drastically to 36%, with a plurality now saying they would feel unsafe (38%) and a further 26% saying they don’t know.
Such doubts are likely driven by reports on rare blood clots linked to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine that caused the US to temporarily stop the rollout of this vaccine. While this pause was lifted again only eleven days later, our research suggests that public anxiety might take longer to subside.
A similar logic appears to apply to American voters’ views on the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which 29% would feel safe and 34% feel unsafe taking, with a further 37% saying they don’t know. In addition to the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine not currently being authorised for use in the US, doubts regarding rare blood clotting are again likely to weigh on American voters’ perceptions of this vaccine’s safety.
With more than 150 million people in the US now having received at least one dose, discussions are increasingly focusing on whether and how the US should support other nations in their vaccination rollouts. In fact, amidst news of the US backing a temporary suspension of intellectual property rights for coronavirus vaccines to increase global vaccine production, a majority (59%) of Americans agree with a statement suggesting that the US should assist other nations’ vaccination efforts.
This view is particularly widespread among 2020 Biden voters, 77% of whom think the US should provide assistance to other nations, compared to only 40% of 2020 Trump voters. Only 14% of respondents think the US should not assist other nations’ vaccination efforts.
At the same time, 53% of the public—including equal proportions of Biden (55%) and Trump voters (54%)—also agree with a statement suggesting that the US should assist other nations’ vaccination efforts only when all Americans who want to be vaccinated have received two doses, while 16% do not agree with this precondition. These results appear to indicate that a majority of the American public does place certain limits on international solidarity in the fight against coronavirus.
Overall, our research finds that Americans are largely satisfied with the US vaccination programme, both at the national and the state level. We find this satisfaction among both Biden and Trump voters, although a certain partisan divide remains visible. At the same time, however, we observe a decline in the public’s perception of the safety of certain vaccines, notably the Johnson & Johnson one. As the pace of vaccinations slows, whether or not the US will be able to hit its new goal of at least partly vaccination 70% of all adults by 4 July will thus largely depend on how the public’s willingness to receive their coronavirus vaccinations evolves.