A new Newsy/Ipsos poll finds most Americans are interested in getting an FDA-approved vaccine for the coronavirus, but some skepticism remains.
69% of Americans surveyed said they were interested in the vaccine, while 24% said they were not.
White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx called that number encouraging.
"I think having that many say that now, when they haven't seen the efficacy and the safety profile yet, just tells me that that's our starting point and as we get out information on how effective the vaccines are and how safe the vaccines are, that says that number is only going to go up from there," Dr. Birx told Newsy.
31% of Republicans and 33% of self-identifying independents said they were not interested in being vaccinated once the FDA approved a vaccine for COVID-19.
People without a college degree and non-White Americans were also less interested in getting vaccinated.
Vaccine skepticism and anti-vaccine rhetoric is nothing new, but public health experts worry that it may be getting worse during the coronavirus pandemic.
"Unfortunately, we've also suffered from mixed messaging that somehow puts public health experts in conflict with our elected officials. And so it's understandable that people don't know who to believe," said Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and the former Baltimore City Health Commissioner.
Experts like Dr. Wen and The U.S. top expert on infectious diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci say building trust at the community level is key to convincing people to get vaccinated.
"We've got to get these people convinced, and you have to do it by extending yourself to the community, not by a dictum from Washington," Dr. Fauci said in an interview with CNN.
Senior administration officials told Newsy they are planning a broad vaccine education campaign, but they did not specify when it would be rolled out.
Continuing challenges around coronavirus testing may also be lowering Americans' confidence in a possible vaccine. Now, the Trump administration is sending more PPE and testing kits, as well as top health officials like Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci, to new coronavirus hot spots as part of a campaign to slow the spread and educate Americans.
This week, two potential vaccines began phase 3 clinical trials. Administration officials say they are cautiously optimistic that the U.S. will have a coronavirus vaccine by 2021, but health experts say the government can't wait that long to begin educating Americans about the importance of getting vaccinated.
"We don't want to wait until there is a vaccine to start these campaigns and enlisting these local trusted messengers. That outreach should be done now," Dr. Wen said.