With a majority of adult Americans now at least partially vaccinated against coronavirus, roughly a quarter of adults say they will not try to get the shot, according to a new CNN Poll conducted by SSRS. That vaccine-hesitant 26% is much more willing to return to regular activity, far less confident in the government health officials overseeing vaccine rollouts, and opposed to vaccine requirements for everyday activities.
Overall, the poll seems to point to a country on the road to normalcy, with about 7 in 10 having gotten a vaccine or planning to do so and two-thirds comfortable returning to their regular routines. But there are sharp divisions by vaccine willingness over the role vaccines might play in a return to pre-pandemic life.
In the poll, 55% of adults say they have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, while 45% have not – which matches with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s statistics on vaccine distribution. Those who have not yet received a dose at this point are more likely to say that they will not try to get one than that they will seek it out. All told, 26% of adults say they will not try to get a coronavirus vaccine, about the same as those who said so in March, while 16% say they haven’t yet gotten one but will do so.
Republicans remain the group most likely to say that they will not try to get a vaccine. Almost half of Republicans, 44%, feel that way, compared with 28% of independents and 8% of Democrats. Within Republicans, resistance to vaccines is concentrated among the young. Among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents ages 50 and older, 66% have gotten a vaccine or are willing to get one, but among those younger than 50, 57% say they will not get a vaccine. There is also an education divide that cuts across party lines. Among those who have a four-year college degree, 18% say they will not seek out a vaccine, compared with 31% among those who do not have a college degree.
Perhaps surprisingly, the group that is unwilling to get a vaccine is the most comfortable with the idea of returning to their regular routine. Overall, 63% of all adults say they are comfortable returning to their routine today and another 4% say they already have. Among those who are not vaccinated and do not plan to get one, 87% say they’re comfortable or have already returned to their routines, compared with 63% among those who haven’t gotten vaccinated but plan to, and 58% among those who have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
That suggests those unwilling to be vaccinated do not see inoculation as necessary for them to return to life as it was pre-pandemic. Further, those who are not yet vaccinated are also the least confident that the government officials managing the rollout of coronavirus vaccines are properly balancing speed and safety in deciding which vaccines should be available.
Overall, 71% say they are confident that government health officials are balancing speed and safety properly, while 28% say they are not confident. Nearly all who have gotten a vaccine express confidence (91%), and among those who have not yet received a coronavirus vaccine, there is a gap between those who say they will try to get vaccinated and those who will not. Those who say they will try to get a shot are mostly confident in the process (77% say they are very or somewhat confident), while among those who say they don’t plan to seek out a vaccine, 70% say they have little or no confidence in those health officials.
The poll finds broad opposition to a vaccine requirement for shopping in a grocery store (72% oppose that), but narrow majorities also oppose requiring vaccines for an office-worker returning to the workplace (52%) and a fan attending a sporting event or concert (51%). The public is evenly split over whether students attending in-person classes should be required to be vaccinated (49% support that and 49% oppose it).
Support for vaccine requirements is closely tied to one’s willingness to get a vaccine themselves. Among those who have already received at least one dose of the vaccine or who say they will try to get one, more than 6 in 10 support requiring vaccines for students attending in-person classes (67%), fans attending sporting events or concerts (64%) and office-workers returning to the workplace (62%). Among those who are not vaccinated and say they will not try to get one, support for those requirements stands in the single digits (6% for students, 4% for fans, 5% for office-workers). Opposition to a vaccine requirement for grocery shopping cuts across vaccination status.
The methodology and weighting for this poll have been modified compared with CNN polls conducted before 2021. Interviews conducted on cell phones made up 75% of the total, up from 65% in prior surveys. Dialing extended over six days rather than four days, allowing for more effort to be made to contact those who are not easily reachable. Demographic weighting was adjusted to account for more discrete education categories broken out by race, and a geographic weight was applied to ensure representative distribution by population density. In addition, results were weighted for partisan identification and lean among independents, with targets computed using an average of the current poll plus four recent CNN polls.
The new CNN Poll was conducted by SSRS April 21 through 26 among a random national sample of 1,004 adults reached on landlines or cellphones by a live interviewer. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.