Jul 20, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Axios-Ipsos poll: Convincing the unvaccinated

Strategies to reach the unvaccinated
Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note: Among a sample of 295 respondents, with a margin of error of +/-5.8%; Chart: Connor Rothschild/Axios

Most Americans who still aren't vaccinated say nothing — not their own doctor administering it, a favorite celebrity's endorsement or even paid time off — is likely to make them get the shot, according to the latest installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: The findings are more sobering evidence of just how tough it may be to reach herd immunity in the U.S. But they also offer a roadmap for trying — the public health equivalent of, "So you're telling me there's a chance."

What they're saying: "There's a part of that population that are nudge-able and another part that are unbudge-able," said Cliff Young, president of Ipsos U.S. Public Affairs.

  • "From a public health standpoint they've got to figure out how you nudge the nudge-able."

Details: 30% of U.S. adults in our national survey said they haven't yet gotten the COVID-19 vaccine — half of them a hard no, saying they're "not at all likely" to take it. We asked the unvaccinated about how likely they'd be to take it in a number of scenarios:

  • The best prospect was a scenario in which they could get the vaccine at their regular doctor's office. But even then, 55% said they'd remain not at all likely and only 7% said they'd be "very likely" to do it. That leaves a combined 35% who are either somewhat likely or not very likely but haven't ruled it out.
  • The Biden administration's Olivia Rodrigo play won't reach a lot of the holdouts, according to these results: 70% said the endorsement of a celebrity or public figure they like is "not at all likely" to get them to take a shot, and just 4% said they'd be "very likely" to do it. But another combined 24% could be somewhat in play.
  • What if your boss gave you paid time off to get the shot? 63% said they'd still be not at all likely to do it, while 5% said they'd be very likely. Another 30% combined are potentially but not eagerly gettable.
  • Similar majorities said they’d be unmoved by community volunteers coming to the door to discuss the vaccine, the option to get a shot at work or a mobile clinic, or being lobbied by friends or family members.

The big picture: Overall, Americans' concerns are rising for activities like seeing family and friends outside the home, going to the grocery store or sports events or getting on a plane.

  • Those concerns had subsided as vaccines became widely available. But the numbers are creeping back up after recent reports of rising infection rates and the dangers of the Delta variant.
  • But this trend is being driven by the vaccinated. The unvaccinated are no more concerned than they were before, which wasn't much.

By the numbers: In contrast to unvaccinated Americans' resistance to getting a shot at all, most vaccinated Americans say they'd go a step farther by getting a booster shot under a wide variety of hypothetical conditions:

  • 85% if COVID-19 cases rise in the U.S.
  • 87% if public health officials recommend it.
  • 88% if there's a new virus variant spreading in the U.S. or if it's recommended annually like a flu shot.
  • 93% if your doctor recommends it.

Methodology: This Axios/Ipsos Poll was conducted July 16-19 by Ipsos' KnowledgePanel®. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,048 general population adults age 18 or older.

  • The margin of sampling error is ±3.3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of adults.
  • The margin of sampling error for the 295 unvaccinated adults in the sample is ±5.8 percentage points.
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