Poll: One-Third of Unvaccinated Adults Say FDA Approval Eases Most of Their Concerns

Making the rounds of the Sunday shows last weekend after the Food and Drug Administration announced its full approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said he hoped the approval would “tip” some vaccine fence-sitters toward getting vaccinated.

And Dr. Rich Besser, a former acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, told ABC he was “hopeful” full approval will “address any remaiing concerns and … move many people to a ‘yes’ on vaccination.”

And according to a national poll conducted days before the FDA announcement about the Pfizer vaccine, more than one-third of unvaccinated adults (35%) said the FDA’s full approval of one of the vaccines would address most or all of their concerns about the vaccines’ safety and effectiveness.

Another 20% said it would address “some” of their concerns. The poll — conducted August 19-22 by data intelligence company Morning Consult on behalf of the de Beaumont Foundation — also identified messages that would make unvaccinated adults feel more confident in the vaccines following FDA approval. See detailed results and graphs, including tested messaging.

“These findings tell us that FDA approval matters to a large number of Americans who have not been vaccinated,” said Brian C. Castrucci, DrPH, president and chief executive officer of the de Beaumont Foundation. “Public health experts, medical professionals, business leaders, the media, and others have a critical opportunity to emphasize that the vaccines are safe and effective – and to combat disinformation that contradicts those facts.”

In the poll, a quarter of the respondents said the following messages would make them somewhat more confident or much more confident:

  • FDA’s full approval of the first COVID-19 vaccine is an important milestone that should reassure anyone who has concerns about getting vaccinated.
  • All three COVID-19 vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective, based on extensive clinical trials and the fact that nearly 200 million Americans have received at least one shot without major complications.
  • With the FDA granting full approval for a COVID-19 vaccine, Americans can be even more confident that the COVID-19 vaccines work and are safe.
  • All three COVID-19 vaccines work. They reduce the risk of getting COVID-19 and greatly reduce your risk of being hospitalized or dying.
  • For people who have said they will “wait and see,” the results are in — the COVID-19 vaccines work, and they’re safe.

Among a list of options, respondents were asked to choose what would have the biggest impact on their decision to get a COVID-19 vaccine. A full 39% of unvaccinated adults chose FDA approval as their first or second choice, with the next closest options being employer requirements, less testing, access to public events, and encouragement from their children.

In a poll conducted the first week of August, more than half of unvaccinated parents said the FDA’s full approval would make them more confident in the vaccines and would make them more likely to get their children vaccinated. That poll also found that 81% of unvaccinated parents said they think vaccines for diseases like measles and mumps are safe for children, compared with only 60% who said the COVID-19 vaccines are safe for children.

“Our message to parents should be: If you trust the safety of vaccines for measles and mumps, we have good news. The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine now has the exact same level of approval as those childhood vaccines,” Castrucci said.