By: Sree Chaguturu, MD Senior Vice President, CVS Health and Chief Medical Officer, CVS Caremark Troy Brennan, MD Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, CVS Health Garth Graham, MD Vice President, Chief Community Health Officer, Aetna
We are now entering a new phase of our collective response to the pandemic. If and when any of the several leading COVID-19 vaccine candidates are approved, manufacturers are expected to ramp up wide-scale production. Many of the public health levers we have used to date to control the pandemic — social distancing, wearing masks, hand hygiene, broad testing and contact tracing — will continue to be important. However, vaccines offer us a new and powerful tool in combating the pandemic. For the country to achieve significant control of COVID-19, widespread adoption of safe and efficacious vaccines across all communities and populations will be critical.
While initial results show the vaccines pending authorization to be both safe and highly efficacious, several reports have emerged suggesting widespread adoption will be difficult due to vaccine hesitancy. Better understanding the reasons behind vaccine hesitancy enables us to implement a targeted campaign to address these concerns and help ensure widespread adoption across communities. We wanted to obtain a clear view of which populations are more or less willing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, and why they have those particular sentiments.
To do so, we initiated a broad, nationwide survey that is representative of the U.S. population as described by the U.S. Census Bureau. The survey was initiated the day after Pfizer and BioNTech released their first interim efficacy analysis from their Phase-3 study indicating their vaccine candidate was more than 90 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 and had 5,153 participants. The survey was conducted November 10-15, 2020. Its findings allow us to better understand vaccine hesitancy at this point in the pandemic and hence, address it.
While the results showed significant hesitancy across multiple populations — only 28 percent of this general population sample were interested in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it is available — they also gave us the information needed to effectively overcome these barriers. These findings are a snapshot in time and are likely to evolve.
Among survey respondents: