News Release

Vaccine Monitor: What We’ve Learned

With nearly all states poised to allow anyone at least 16 years old to get a COVID-19 vaccine, this week’s announcement pausing the distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to investigate a rare side effect is raising questions about whether and how it will affect the public’s eagerness to get vaccinated.

A new report summarizes key insights about vaccine confidence, messages and messengers from the KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor project, which has interviewed more than 11,000 adults nationally since December to track the public’s shifting attitudes and experiences with COVID-19 vaccinations.

Among its key takeaways:

  • Among those who are not ready to get a COVID-19 vaccination right away, their top concern consistently has been the potential side effects, including many who worry they will have to miss work due to side effects. The news about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could heighten those worries for people on the fence about getting vaccinated.
  • Prior to the pause in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, it was an appealing option for a large share of those in the “wait and see” group because it requires only a single shot, while the other available vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer) require two shots several weeks apart.
  • Some people’s concerns about vaccination are based on lack of access to accurate information. For example, many are concerned that they might get COVID-19 from a vaccine, which is not possible, or that they will have to pay out-of-pocket even though the COVID-19 vaccinations are free.
  • No group is monolithic in their vaccine attitudes. While some demographics such as Republicans have a higher share saying they don’t intend to get vaccinated, and others such as Black adults have a higher share saying they want to “wait and see,” majorities across all demographic groups are at least somewhat open to getting a vaccine.
  • Individual health care providers are the most trusted messengers when it comes to information about the COVID-19 vaccines.

Available through the Monitor’s online dashboard, the report looks at common messages and messengers that apply across demographic groups, as well as challenges and opportunities related to the views of specific groups such as Black and Hispanic adults, Republicans, rural residents, frontline health workers and those who say they will “definitely not” get vaccinated.

The KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor is an ongoing research project tracking the public’s attitudes and experiences with COVID-19 vaccinations. Using a combination of surveys and qualitative research, this project tracks the dynamic nature of public opinion as vaccine development and distribution unfolds, including vaccine confidence and acceptance, trusted messengers and messages, as well as the public’s experiences with vaccination.

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The independent source for health policy research, polling, and news, KFF is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.