Nearly 90% of unvaccinated U.S. adults say the highly transmissible omicron variant will not make them any more likely to get a Covid-19 vaccine shot, a new Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) poll finds, with nearly half of those opposed to the vaccines saying there’s nothing that could change their mind—even as the rapidly spreading new strain puts them, particularly at risk.
The KFF poll, conducted December 15 to 20 among 1,065 U.S. adults, found 87% of unvaccinated respondents say news about the omicron variant makes them no more likely to get vaccinated, while 12% say it makes them more likely.
Among vaccinated respondents, 54% said omicron makes them more likely to get a booster shot.
While 49% of all adults say they’re now at least somewhat worried they’ll get “seriously sick from the coronavirus”—up from 30% in November—only 42% of the unvaccinated say they’re concerned, versus 52% of vaccinated respondents.
When asked what would persuade them to get the shot, a 48% plurality of unvaccinated respondents said “nothing.”
A further 12% said “more research/transparency” would inspire them to get vaccinated, while 6% they would do so if it was mandatory, 5% would if they received a “large sum of money” 3% said it would take a doctor recommending it and another 3% need the shot to prevent 100% of infections.
When asked what would persuade them to get vaccinated, one 32-year-old unvaccinated woman from North Carolina told KFF, “Jesus himself would have to come down from Heaven and speak with me personally.”
72.5%. That’s the percentage of U.S. adults who are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, leaving more than 25% of the population still without the shots. Of those who are still unvaccinated, KFF polling conducted in November found 14% of adults say they’ll “definitely not” get vaccinated, 3% will only do so if required and 6% plan to “wait and see,” while only 2% said they plan to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
The omicron variant to spread even more in the U.S. The new strain accounted for 73% of all new Covid-19 cases in the U.S. last week, the CDC estimates, up from just 3% the week before. While early evidence suggests vaccines are less effective at preventing infections from omicron—though booster shots provide more protection—they’re still protective against severe illness and death, leaving the unvaccinated the most at risk as the variant surges. “For the unvaccinated, you’re looking at a winter of severe illness and death for yourselves, your families and the hospitals you may soon overwhelm,” White House Covid-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said at a press briefing last week.