Vaccine hesitancy down in U.S., but 1 in 7 still reluctant

Los Angeles Times/TNS

Vaccine hesitancy in the U.S. is shrinking, though 1 in 7 residents remain wary about getting a COVID-19 vaccine, largely because of concerns about side effects.

That segment is younger and less educated than average, according to a tracker released Wednesday by the U.S. Census Bureau that uses Household Pulse Survey data. Residents were surveyed before U.S. regulators on Tuesday recommended pausing Johnson & Johnson vaccines because of concerns about rare blood clots.

Hesitancy is one of the final hurdles that health officials face on the path to herd immunity. Rapidly spreading variants are increasing pressure on the Biden administration and states to dose quickly and stem mutation of the virus.

Common side effects of the vaccines include fevers, aches and nausea, but most pass within a day or two. The instances of blood clotting cited in the J&J pause are less than one case per million. The government hopes that seriously investigating even rare side effects will bolster public support.

Survey respondents also said a lack of trust in the vaccine and the government were major deterrents from getting shots.

The good news is that group is shrinking, according to the survey. About 15.6% of respondents were hesitant about getting the shots, according to the most recent data, which runs through the end of March. In January, the number was 21.5%.

The survey broke out groups by characteristics. By age, people 25 to 39 were most hesitant, by sex there was no difference. Among those surveyed, who were all over 18, more than a quarter of the uninsured respondents were unsure. Hesitancy was highest in Wyoming, where a third of residents were reluctant to get shots, and its neighbors like Montana.

The U.S. has administered 192 million doses so far, and is doing so at a rate of 3.4 million per day, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. About 37% of the population has been given at least one dose.

There have been more than 563,873 deaths in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University data. There were, on average, 5,336 COVID-19 hospital admissions over the week ending April 6, a 7.3% increase from the previous week, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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