HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The U.S. is edging closer to approving a vaccine for COVID-19, but there is growing concern that many people might opt not to take it ― at least initially.
A new survey from the University of Hawaii’s Public Policy Center, which was conducted in November, appeared to find broad concern about the vaccine among Hawaii residents.
Just 44% of the 616 people surveyed said they planned to take the vaccine when it’s available.
That’s down seven percentage points from a similar survey conducted in August.
Colin Moore, Public Policy Center director, said the decline is surprising.
“I suspect some of this has to do with a general sense of uncertainty in their confidence in the government right now,” he said.
However, that is not surprising to Kim Haine, Children’s Health Defense Hawaii Chapter President.
“They say they’re not forcing it on us, they’re not mandating it, yet you won’t be able to fly on an airplane or you won’t be able to get your health insurance. Those types of societal exclusions and penalties, that’s taking us down a really slippery slope of medical tyranny that I just hope doesn’t happen,” said Haine.
Haine and others aren’t convinced the risks outweigh the benefits.
“This vaccine is lability free. If it injures you, the manufactures and providers are protected. You’re out of luck,” Haine said.
Hawaii’s Lieutenant Governor thinks the skepticism over the vaccine will wear off once it becomes more widespread.
“I think actually at the end of the day, we’ll have 70 to 80% of all people get a vaccination, if I had to make a prediction, because people will see the benefit as long as it’s safe,” said Josh Green.
Experts say herd immunity will likely be achieved when 60 to 70% of people in a community are vaccinated. But Hawaii may not reach that point until next summer.
The survey also found men were more likely to say they would definitely get the vaccine (54%) than women (34%).
Meanwhile, income was a strong predictor of confidence in the vaccine. Just 28% of Hawaii’s poorest households said they would get the vaccine compared to 56% among high-income households.
The survey also asked Hawaii residents about other aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic:
- More than half said they expect the severity of the pandemic to get worse.
- Respondents said they were generally supportive of the state’s response to the pandemic. About one third gave the state a low rating.
- Some 62% said they didn’t want tourists to visit the islands right now, and a majority of residents said they don’t trust the state or tourism industry to reopen travel safely.
- Mask wearing remains a problem. Some 81% say they wear a mask when out in public, but less than half said they wear a mask when visiting friends.
For more on the survey, click here.