Multiple Strategies Are Needed to Address Vaccine Hesitancy

Trends data shows increasing entrenchment of attitudes
May 27, 2021
Executive Vice President & Chief Medical Officer, CVS Health

Widespread adoption of vaccination across all communities and populations is critical to gaining control of COVID-19. However, vaccine hesitancy poses a risk to this adoption and control. The pace of vaccinations has slowed since reaching a peak in mid-April.

Understanding vaccine hesitancy is important to effective outreach and ensuring widespread adoption. CVS Health has been surveying Americans about their attitudes toward vaccination since the end of 2020. We have published two white papers on this topic to date and wanted to share our latest results that track hesitancy through early May.

Our survey results indicate that hesitancy has become entrenched over time and shows little sign of declining. The total percentage of Americans who do not plan to be vaccinated spiked at 24 percent in February 2021 and has stayed at around 19 percent since March.

Vaccine-unwillingness varies by race and ethnicity, ranging from 18 percent among Whites to 23 percent of Blacks. Hispanics have the lowest rate of hesitancy, with 13 percent.

Among those who are vaccine-unwilling, their reasons continue to be focused on the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, and those concerns are increasing.

Among those unwilling to be vaccinated, the most prevalent concern is about side effects

Which, if any, of these reasons describe why you do NOT plan to get the COVID-19 vaccine? Please choose as many as apply. Shown among vaccine-unwilling adults (N=307)

Methodology: This poll as conducted between April 8-April 12, 2021 among a national sample of 2,200 Adults. The interviews were conducted online and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of adults based on age, educational attainment, gender, race, and region. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of ±2 percentage points.

Fortunately, 55 percent of Americans have received at least one dose. Racial differences seem to parallel hesitancy rates: 58 percent of Whites have received at least one dose, as compared with 40 percent of Blacks and 43 percent of Hispanics.

This morning, CVS Health announced the #OneStepCloser sweepstakes. All customers aged 18 and up who received a vaccination or certify that they’ve registered to receive a vaccination from CVS Health either at a CVS Pharmacy retail location, or through CVS Health at a long-term care facility, off-site clinic or Return Ready clinic prior to the close of the sweepstakes on July 11 are eligible to win. An alternative method of entry will also be offered. CVS Health colleagues who meet the requirements are also eligible to enter.

Ohio has experimented with a similar sweepstakes approach. The Vax-A-Million campaign, which offered as prizes $1 million or a college scholarship, increased vaccination rates by 28 percent, according to state public health officials. Colorado reportedly is considering a similar campaign after seeing vaccination rates slow while cases, hospitalizations and deaths increased after restrictions were lifted on May 14.

The sweepstakes is just one tactic in our multipronged approach to vaccine hesitancy, which focuses on highlighting the convenience and resulting benefits of vaccination.

First, we utilize our enterprise assets to provide timely information and make vaccination convenient. Second, we expand access to vaccinations and increase throughput with store selection and partnerships. Nearly half of our stores are located in communities ranked high or very high on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Social Vulnerability Index. Through partnerships with employers, communities and the public sector, we offer offsite clinics and worksite clinics. Last but not least, educational outreach to build trust in the safety and efficacy of the vaccines includes culturally competent messaging; 32 percent of our in-store patients are members of under-represented minorities.

As a result of this multifaceted approach, CVS Health has administered more than 17 million vaccines to date. We will continue to support ongoing efforts to bring all Americans #OneStepCloser to the activities that are possible once vaccinated.

May 27, 2021
Executive Vice President & Chief Medical Officer, CVS Health