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Data: KFF; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

Many Americans are hesitant about a coronavirus vaccine, but few are truly dug in against one, according to our new KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor.

Why it matters: This is encouraging news, and suggests that people may be more willing to get vaccinated if they get more information from sources they trust.

The big picture: Four groups jump out as vaccine hesitant: Republicans, rural Americans, Black adults and essential workers.

Yes, but: Many skeptics in each of those groups may be persuadable, and hesitancy is often driven more by caution than by staunch opposition to getting vaccinated.

  • 71% of hesitant Black adults and 51% of hesitant essential workers say they’re unsure about the vaccines because they’re worried about side effects.
  • Similarly, 50% of vaccine-hesitant Black adults worry they will actually get COVID-19 from the vaccines, and 50% of essential workers said they don’t trust the government to make sure the vaccines are safe and effective. 
  • Once those Americans learn more, or see widespread vaccinations with few side effects, they may feel more comfortable.

By the numbers: Hesitancy is often driven more by caution than by staunch opposition to getting vaccinated.

  • 33% of Republicans, for example, said they’d “wait and see” before getting vaccinated, and 28% said they would do it as soon as possible. That leaves just 25% who said they will “definitely not” get vaccinated and 10% who said they’ll only do it if it’s mandatory.
  • 36% of essential workers want to “wait and see,” while 28% want a vaccine as soon as possible and 18% said they definitely will not take it.

Between the lines: Distrust of government and other institutions, especially in communities of color, will remain a real barrier.

  • It will take targeted and effective messaging and information efforts, using credible messengers, to reach these groups and address their specific concerns. No one message or single messenger is likely to be effective across the board.

The bottom line: If those efforts are well-funded and implemented wisely, it does appear real progress can be made to reduce hesitancy among the most resistant groups.

Go deeper: 

Go deeper

Jan 29, 2021 - World

EU grants conditional approval of AstraZeneca vaccine

Photo: Sunil Ghosh/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

The European Commission on Friday granted conditional approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for people 18 years and older.

Why it matters: This is the third vaccine to receive approval from the commission, coming hours after the Emergency Medicines Agency recommended its authorization.

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

Ex-CDC director Tom Frieden on the next COVID-19 vaccines

Americans fortunate enough to receive COVID vaccines now, outside of clinical trials, are getting shots made by either Pfizer or Moderna. But newly released data from Novavax and Johnson & Johnson suggests that more vaccines could be on the way, with J&J's requiring a single dose.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the news and why it matters with Tom Frieden, former head of the CDC, as COVID-19 variants spread globally.

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

WHO says most pregnant women can now receive coronavirus vaccine

A doctor administering Moderna's coronavirus vaccine at a university hospital in Essen, Germany, on Jan. 18. Photo: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images

The World Health Organization has altered its guidance for pregnant women who wish to receive the coronavirus vaccine, saying now that those at high risk of exposure to the COVID-19 or who have comorbidities that increase their risk of severe disease, may be vaccinated.

Why it matters: The WHO drew backlash for its previous guidance that did not recommend pregnant women be inoculated with vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, even though data indicated that pregnancy increased the risk of developing severe illness from the virus.