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Home Coronavirus KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor: Experiences With Vaccine Access And Information Needs

KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor: Experiences With Vaccine Access And Information Needs

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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 unfold, including vaccine confidence and acceptance, information needs, trusted messengers and messages, as well as the public’s experiences with vaccination.

Key Findings

  • A little over two months into the U.S. efforts to distribute and administer the COVID-19 vaccine, and as many states and localities ramp up efforts and work out the kinks in their systems, the latest KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor shows that while the scheduling process has been smooth for most of those who got vaccinated, some older adults have had difficulty getting a vaccination appointment and many others have had trouble finding information about where or when they will be able to get the vaccine.
  • Among adults ages 65 and over, who are now eligible to be vaccinated in nearly every U.S. state, about half say they have already received at least one dose of the vaccine (44%) or have scheduled an appointment to do so (8%). However, one in six older adults (16%) say they have tried but been unable to make an appointment to get vaccinated. Among older adults who got vaccinated or attempted to get an appointment, about half say the process was easy and about four in ten say it was difficult.
  • Among those who have gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, four in ten across age groups say someone else helped them get the appointment. About half of those who helped others try to get an appointment say it was difficult to get an appointment, while a similar share say it was easy.
  • Among those who have not been vaccinated, just over four in ten (44%) say they have tried to look for information about when or where to get the COVID-19 vaccine. About six in ten (57%) of this group say the information was easy to find and four in ten (42%) say it was difficult. Overall, nearly two-thirds (63%) of those who haven’t been vaccinated say they don’t have enough information about when they’ll be able to get vaccinated and nearly half (45%) say they don’t have enough information about where they can go to get the vaccine.
  • Asked where they would most like to go to get the COVID-19 vaccine, the largest share across demographic groups says they want to get it at their own doctor’s office (75% say they’d be very likely to get it there if it was available, and 38% pick their doctor’s office as the place they would most prefer to go among a range of options). Fifteen percent choose a pharmacy as the place they’d most like to get vaccinated, followed by a hospital (9%) or their workplace (8%). Others say they’d choose locations such as a community health clinic, a local school, a church or other religious site, or a large vaccination site run by the government, suggesting that having multiple distribution avenues will help in reaching different segments of the U.S. population with a trusted place to go to get vaccinated.

Older Adults’ Experiences Getting Vaccine Appointments

While there is variation across states and even counties in terms of who is currently eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, most states have opened up vaccinations to those ages 65 and over. New analysis from the KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor shows that about half of adults in this age range say they have either gotten their first vaccine dose (44%) or have scheduled an appointment to do so (8%). Another one in six (16%) say they tried to make an appointment to get vaccinated but were unable to get one.

Some states started vaccinating adults ages 75 and over before opening up vaccinations to other age groups, and this is reflected in a higher share of this group saying they have received or scheduled their first vaccine dose (67% of those ages 75 and over compared to 43% of those ages 65-74). In addition, older adults with college degrees, who may be better able to navigate the systems for signing up for vaccine appointments, are more likely than those who have not graduated from college to say they have received or scheduled their first dose (65% compared to 46%). About half of both men and women ages 65 and over say they have received or scheduled their first dose of the vaccine.

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Among older adults who either got the COVID-19 vaccine or tried to get an appointment, about half (52%) say it was easy to get an appointment while about four in ten (43%) say it was difficult. Combined with the fact that one in six older adults attempted to get a vaccination appointment but were unable, this suggests that while the process is working well for many of those among the first priority age group for vaccination, others are encountering difficulties and frustration when attempting to sign up.

 

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Ease Of Finding Information About When And Where To Get Vaccinated

Among adults of all ages who have not yet been vaccinated, just over four in ten (44%) say they have tried to look for information about when or where to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Among all those who were either vaccinated or tried to look for information, just over a third (36%) say that information was difficult to find while most (63%) say it was easy. Those who have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine are somewhat less likely to report difficulty finding information compared to those who looked for information but have not yet been vaccinated (24% vs. 42%).


 

Among those who are most eager to get the COVID-19 vaccine (those who say they will get it as soon as it’s available to them), about six in ten (63%) say they have looked for information about where or when they can get the vaccine, and nearly half that group (28% overall) say the information was difficult to find.

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Who Got Help? Who Is Helping?

Among those who have gotten at least the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, four in ten (39%) say that someone else helped them find or schedule a vaccine appointment while six in ten (59%) completed the process on their own. The share who report getting help signing up is similar among both older and younger adults who have gotten the vaccine (40% of those ages 18-64 and 39% of those ages 65 and over). Those without a college degree (50%) and those with household incomes under $40,000 (55%) are somewhat more likely than their counterparts with higher levels of income and education to report getting help with finding or scheduling a vaccine appointment.

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One third of adults overall say they have helped someone else find information about when and where to get vaccinated and close to a quarter (23%) report helping someone else get a vaccine appointment. While those with lower levels of income and education are more likely to report getting help finding vaccine appointments, the opposite is true when it comes to doing the helping. Nearly half of college graduates (47%) and those with incomes of $90,000 or more (45%) say they have helped someone else find information and about three in ten in these groups say they’ve helped someone get a vaccine appointment (32% and 30%, respectively). Although anecdotes abound about adult children and grandchildren helping older relatives get appointments, those ages 65 and over are in fact more likely than younger adults to report assisting someone else (43% say they’ve helped someone else find information and 32% have helped someone get a vaccine appointment).

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Those helping others report similar levels of difficulty finding information and getting appointments as those who completed these tasks on their own. Among those who helped someone else look for information about when and where to get vaccinated, six in ten (62%) say it was easy and four in ten (38%) say the information was difficult to find. Among those who helped someone else try to get a COVID-19 vaccination appointment, half (49%) say the process was difficult and a similar share (46%) say it was easy.

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Information And Outreach

At this point, a much larger share of the public reports seeing messages in the media urging people to get the COVID-19 vaccine than says they have asked a health care professional for information or received information via targeted outreach. Among those who haven’t been vaccinated, seven in ten (71%) say they’ve seen messages online or in the media, one-quarter have asked a health care provider for information, and about one in five (18%) have been contacted by a health organization or agency with information about how to get the vaccine.

While large shares across demographic groups report seeing messages online and in the media, older adults, women, and those with college degrees are both more likely to say they have asked a health care provider for more information and more likely to say they have been contacted by a health care provider, insurance company, or public health agency with information about how to get vaccinated for COVID-19.


 

Despite high visibility of outreach campaigns online and in the media, large shares of the public continue to say that they don’t have enough information about the potential side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine, or about when or where they will be able to get vaccinated. Among those who have not yet gotten the vaccine, awareness about where to get vaccinated increased somewhat over the past month; 55% now say they have enough information about this, up from 43% in January. Yet this leaves 45% saying they don’t have enough information about where to get vaccinated. In addition, 63% of those who haven’t been vaccinated say they don’t have enough information about when they’ll be able to get the vaccine and over half (54%) say they don’t know enough about the potential side effects of the vaccine, both essentially unchanged from last month.

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Among those who have not yet been vaccinated, adults with lower incomes are more likely than those with higher incomes to say they don’t have enough information about where they can get vaccinated as well as the potential side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine. In addition, Hispanic adults are more likely than White adults to say they don’t have enough information about where or when they can get the vaccine, and both Black and Hispanic adults are more likely than White adults to say they don’t have enough information about the potential side effects of the vaccine.

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Where People Want To Get Vaccinated

With COVID-19 vaccines increasingly becoming available at different locations across the U.S., we examined which locations people say they’d be willing to visit to get a COVID-19 vaccine, as well as the locations they would most prefer as vaccination sites. Individual doctor’s offices were at the top of both lists, but a range of locations were acceptable and preferred by different individuals.

Three-quarters of adults who are open to getting vaccinated (defined as those who say they will get the vaccine as soon as they can, after waiting to see how it works for others, or if required) say they would be very likely to get the COVID-19 vaccine at their doctor’s office, if it is available there. A majority also say they’d be very likely to get it at a local pharmacy (61%) or a hospital (55%) and around half say the same of a community health clinic (49%) or their workplace (48%). When asked to pick their most preferred place, 38% chose their own doctor’s office, followed by a local pharmacy (15%), a hospital (9%), or their workplace (8%). Fewer people say they’d most prefer to get the vaccine at a large vaccination site run by the government (5%), a community health clinic (4%), a local school (4%), a grocery store (4%), or a local church or religious center (3%).

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As previously reported, majorities of Black and Hispanic adults who are still deciding whether to get vaccinated are concerned that they won’t be able to get the vaccine from a place they trust. Given this, it’s important to understand preferred vaccination locations among Black and Hispanic adults.

Across racial and ethnic groups, the largest share says they would be “very likely” to get vaccinated at their own doctor’s office, though many are open to getting vaccinated at a range of other places as well. Black adults are somewhat less likely than White adults to say they’d be very likely to get vaccinated at work (39%), at a large vaccination site run by the government (31%), or at a local school (32%). However, the top choice three choices across Black, Hispanic, and White adults alike are their own doctor’s office, a local pharmacy, and a hospital.

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Concerns About Vaccine Effectiveness Against New Strains Of The Virus

Over half (53%) of adults are worried that the vaccines currently available against COVID-19 might not be effective against new strains of coronavirus, while another 47% aren’t worried. Adults who say they definitely won’t get the vaccine are the least likely to be worried, with 55% saying they are not worried at all.

The people who want the vaccine as soon as possible and those who are going to wait and see are the most concerned about the new strains, with seven in ten of those who plan to wait and see very or somewhat worried that it might not be effective, and 58% of those who want the vaccine as soon as possible who say the same.

Black and Hispanic adults are among the most concerned that the current vaccines might not be effective against new strains, with two-thirds of Hispanic adults (67%) and around three in five Black adults (61%) saying they are very or somewhat worried.

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