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A man in Nevada receives a COVID-19 vaccine shot on Jan. 14. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Even as government websites crash under the pressure of demand for the COVID-19 vaccine, surveys show many Americans — including health care workers — still have their doubts.

Why it matters: Unless lingering skepticism about the COVID-19 vaccine is dispelled, achieving herd immunity will be a challenge — even with improved distribution.

By the numbers: In the first survey exclusively focused on vaccine hesitancy among U.S. health professionals, Surgo Ventures reported on Friday it polled 2,500 health care workers and found that of the 53% who had been offered the shot, 15% said they refused to take it.

  • Health care workers at long-term care facilities — home to the populations most vulnerable to COVID-19 — were less likely to say they'd get the vaccine than workers at hospitals.
  • The big picture: An international poll released by Reuters on Friday found less than half of Americans polled said they would definitely be willing to take a COVID-19 vaccine when offered — a much lower percentage than most other countries.

Be smart: It may seem unnecessary to worry about vaccine hesitancy at a moment when the biggest problem seems to be getting shots to the millions of Americans who very much want to get vaccinated.

  • But as much as 80% to 90% of the population may need to achieve immunity through either infection or vaccination to fully curtail the pandemic, which will mean convincing a large proportion of those expressing hesitancy now to get their shots.

Yes, but: The good news is the Reuters poll found even in the U.S., only about a quarter of those polled said they would definitely not get the vaccine, which means a large chunk should be convincible with incentives and better messaging.

  • The bad news is there are active efforts to spread disinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines.
  • On Friday the European Medicines Authority revealed that an ongoing investigation into a cyberattack found evidence that "correspondence has been manipulated by the perpetrators prior to publication in a way which could undermine trust in vaccines."

Go deeper

Jan 30, 2021 - World

Science helps New Zealand avoid another coronavirus lockdown

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (L) visits a lab at Auckland University in December. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

New Zealand has avoided locking down for a second time over COVID-19 community cases because of a swift, science-led response.

Why it matters: The Health Ministry said in an email to Axios Friday there's "no evidence of community transmission" despite three people testing positive after leaving managed hotel isolation. That means Kiwis can continue to visit bars, restaurants and events as much of the world remains on lockdown.

Jan 30, 2021 - World

Germany to impose travel restrictions to curb spread of coronavirus variants

Border police officers check passports and COVID-19 tests at Frankfurt Airport. Photo: Thomas Lohnes via Getty Images

Germany announced Friday that it was imposing new travel restrictions in an effort to curb the spread of more contagious coronavirus variants.

Details: All non-German residents traveling from countries deemed "areas of variant concern," including the United Kingdom, South Africa, Portugal, Ireland, Brazil, Lesotho and Eswatini, will be banned from entering the country, even if they test negative for the coronavirus.

Advocates fret Roe v. Wade's 49th anniversary could be its last

Photo: Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Women's March Inc

As Saturday marks the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court's landmark decision that legalized abortion access in the U.S., advocates warn the ruling is "more at risk now than ever."

The big picture: The Supreme Court in December heard a challenge to a Mississippi 15-week abortion ban that could throw Roe's survival into question, or at least narrow its scope.