A growing number of people in the United States want to get the coronavirus vaccine, and a majority also support workplace, lifestyle and travel restrictions for those not inoculated against COVID-19, according to a poll released on Friday.
The national opinion poll conducted by Reuters/Ipsos found that 54 percent of respondents said they were “very interested” in getting vaccinated. That was up from a January survey, when 41 percent expressed the same level of interest, and 38 percent in a May 2020 poll before a coronavirus vaccine was developed.
Amid a limited supply of vaccination doses, most states are currently still prioritising front-line workers, the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.
US President Joe Biden, in an important speech on Thursday, called on US states to make vaccinations open to all adults by May, to pave the way for economic and social life to resume by July 4, the US Independence Day holiday.
Interest in the vaccine increased over the past year among whites and racial minorities, with about six in 10 whites and five in 10 members of minority groups now expressing a high level of interest.
According to the poll, 27 percent of Americans said they were not interested in getting vaccinated, relatively unchanged from a similar poll that ran in May.
But foreshadowing the social challenges that may emerge as the US begins to pull out of the yearlong pandemic, the latest poll showed a majority of Americans want to limit the ways in which unvaccinated people can mix in public.
Seventy-two percent of Americans said it was important to know “if the people around me have been vaccinated”, according to the poll.
A majority – 62 percent – said unvaccinated people should not be allowed to travel on aeroplanes. Fifty-five percent agreed that unvaccinated people should not work out at public gyms, enter movie theatres or attend public concerts.
When asked about the workplace, 60 percent of Americans said they wanted to work for an employer “who requires everyone to get a coronavirus vaccine before returning to the office” and 56 percent thought unvaccinated workers should stay home.
Companies could soon feel increasing pressure to address those concerns. About 18 percent of the US population has already received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine.
Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said the poll responses made sense, given the social restrictions placed on everyone over the past year.
“People are saying: ‘If I’m vaccinated, it’s going to change my life,'” Adalja said. “‘And if you’re not vaccinated, that’s your choice. But you’re going to be in a different status because you might be a carrier of this virus, so you could spread it to another unvaccinated person.'”