Two-in-five Californians have doubts about safety of COVID-19 vaccine, survey says

Hannah Wiley
·2 min read

Even as the world anxiously awaits a vaccine to end the COVID-19 pandemic, 40% of Californians remain unconvinced they would get immunized if a shot was available today, a new survey released Wednesday found.

One-in-five Californians said they would “probably not” and another 20% said they would “definitely not” get the COVID-19 vaccine, according to a Public Policy Institute of California survey of 1,701 adult residents.

About two-thirds of respondents said they were concerned that a vaccine against the coronavirus was being rushed.

The majority of Californians said they’d likely get vaccinated, with 57% reporting confidence in the hypothetical vaccine.

Nationally, public faith in a vaccine has waned since the coronavirus first swept through the United States this spring. In May, 72% of Americans said they were likely to get the shot if immediately available, according to a Pew Research Center poll. A September survey showed that number has dropped to 51%.

The California numbers follow Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement Monday that he’d put together a panel of 11 scientific experts to review the safety and efficacy of a future COVID-19 vaccine. That effort coincides with a push by President Donald Trump to have a vaccine approved before the end of the year, an endeavor dubbed “Operation Warp Speed” because immunizations usually take years, not months, to develop, test and distribute.

The federal sprint to end a pandemic that’s sickened 8.2 million and killed more than 220,000 Americans has raised concerns that the eventual vaccine will not be safe or effective.

Newsom’s plan is an attempt to assuage those worries by adding an additional layer of review by the independent experts in epidemiology, public health and immunizations from top-ranking universities and institutions.

“This vaccine plan will move at the speed of trust,” Newsom said during a press conference.

Two pharmaceutical companies, Pfizer and Moderna, are hopeful a vaccine could be ready by the end of the year. Both the companies signed on to a letter released last month promising a thorough testing process that meets scientific standards.

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Still, Newsom said that even if a vaccine becomes available before the close of 2020, most Californians will not be vaccinated against COVID-19 until well into 2021. Instead, the plan is to first inoculate vulnerable residents, like health care workers and nursing home residents, before the general public gets a spot in line.

“Don’t anticipate or expect that you can go down to a local pharmacy anytime this year and get a vaccination,” Newsom said. “We don’t expect mass availability until 2021… Vaccines will not end this epidemic overnight.”