How Willing are New Yorkers to Get a Coronavirus Vaccine?


New Yorkers who have personal experience with COVID-19 are more likely to accept a vaccine for the illness, according to a new survey from the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy

The tracking survey of 1,000 New Yorkers found that 74% of residents plan to get a coronavirus vaccine, and those who understand how vaccines work were more likely to accept a vaccine than those who don’t.

“These numbers are encouraging. But when a 70 percent immunization rate is the absolute minimum that public health experts believe will be required to protect a community against the coronavirus, even a small gap in public understanding is troubling,” said CUNY SPH dean Dr. Ayman El-Mohandes.

“Nor would one wish direct experience of this terrible disease to be the best teacher of the need for a vaccine.”

More than 2 million people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus and the number has only skyrocketed as states attempted to reopen prematurely. Poor people and people of color are being disproportionately impacted by the virus. New York has been called the epicenter of the pandemic. There are more than 212,000 confirmed cases in New York City and more than 22,000 people have died here, according to Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

Hope for a coronavirus vaccine is constantly growing, and a past CUNY SPH survey found that New Yorkers would be most comfortable going about their daily lives if a vaccine becomes available. As news of a potential vaccine has made headlines, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he expects a new vaccine may be available by 2021. 

Despite a majority of New Yorkers being willing to get a coronavirus vaccine, only 48% know how vaccines work, the survey found. Women (51%) were more likely to know how vaccines work than men (45%). And 56% of white respondents reported knowing how vaccines work compared with 49% of Asians, 42% of Black people, and 42% of Latinx/Hispanic respondents. 

“This is important information, as it will help public health communicators begin to frame precisely-worded educational messages and choose audience-specific communication media to improve the climate acceptance for a future COVID-19 vaccine,” said CUNY SPH distinguished lecturer Dr. Scott Ratzan

The recent survey is part of CUNY SPH’s efforts to determine attitudes and outcomes among New Yorkers about everything from job loss and mental health to housing and testing amid the COVID-19 health crisis. It was also published by JHC Impact, a blog of the Journal of Health Communication.

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