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Why the next major hurdle to ending the pandemic will be about persuading people to get vaccinated

Maria Saravia, a worker at the University of Southern California’s Keck Hospital, adjusts her mother’s mask before her COVID-19 vaccination. Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Why the next major hurdle to ending the pandemic will be about persuading people to get vaccinated

Maria Saravia, a worker at the University of Southern California’s Keck Hospital, adjusts her mother’s mask before her COVID-19 vaccination. Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Why the next major hurdle to ending the pandemic will be about persuading people to get vaccinated

Maria Saravia, a worker at the University of Southern California’s Keck Hospital, adjusts her mother’s mask before her COVID-19 vaccination. Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Why the next major hurdle to ending the pandemic will be about persuading people to get vaccinated

Maria Saravia, a worker at the University of Southern California’s Keck Hospital, adjusts her mother’s mask before her COVID-19 vaccination. Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Maria Saravia, a worker at the University of Southern California’s Keck Hospital, adjusts her mother’s mask before her COVID-19 vaccination.
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Today, more Americans hope to receive a COVID-19 vaccine than current vaccine supply will allow. Consequently, although President Joe Biden’s initial promise to dole out 100 million vaccine doses in 100 days would require a ramp-up in vaccine allocation, some consider the promise to be insufficient to meet current levels of demand and put the pandemic’s spread into decline.

The current mismatch between vaccine demand and supply, however, may be short-lived. Despite concerns about lagging vaccine allocation for front-line health care workers and other vulnerable groups, health experts are optimistic that public demand for a COVID-19 vaccine will remain high in coming months as more vaccine doses become available.

While it is clear that many political leaders expect public demand for a coronavirus vaccine to be strong, whether or not expectations can live up to reality is an open question. In fact, there is some evidence to suggest instead that large segments of both the public and health care workers do not intend to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Figuring out whether or not some people are less likely to get vaccinated – and their reasons for not getting vaccinated – can help political leaders and health professionals better anticipate vaccine demand. If some social, political and other demographic groups are more (or less) likely to intend to get vaccinated than others, demand for a vaccine may be higher (or lower) in vaccine distribution networks that primarily service vaccine-hesitant groups.

Additionally, understanding why some individuals are more likely to refuse vaccination than others can help inform health communication efforts to increase vaccine uptake. For example, if some Americans intend to refuse to get vaccinated due to concerns that the vaccine is not safe, health communicators can target these groups with easy-to-understand information about how scientists determined that the vaccine is safe.

In a recent peer-reviewed study, we provide important insight into what public demand for a coronavirus vaccine could actually look like, once most Americans have the opportunity to get vaccinated. Just as important, we detail reasons certain Americans do not intend to get vaccinated.

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