As the responsibility for the vaccine rollout in the United States transitions from the Trump administration to the Biden administration, new polling from the United States Studies Centre (USSC) at the University of Sydney shows that only 36 per cent of Americans were extremely or very likely to get a COVID-19 vaccine, compared to 66 per cent of Australians.

Co-author of the State of the United States Poll, USSC CEO Professor Simon Jackman says, “With all the debate about vaccine efficacy rates, it is the vaccine willingness-to-take rate we should be talking about. That only 36 per cent of Americans say they are likely to take the vaccine – in a country where case counts are still surging – should sound alarm bells.”

The new polling compared 1,500 Americans and 1,619 Australians in October 2020 about their perceptions of both the vaccine and the severity of the pandemic.

Jackman notes, “We thought differences in attitudes towards the vaccine may be the result of different assessments about the dangers of the virus, so we tested for this and it turns out that is not the case. Australians and Americans have almost identical views about the personal dangers of COVID-19, but nonetheless have starkly different views about taking a vaccine."

Among Australians who thought the virus was not at all dangerous, only 24 per cent said they are not at all likely to use the vaccine, while the corresponding figure in the United States is 56 per cent.

“The Trump team delivered Operation Warp Speed and got an approved vaccine across the line in record time. This should be celebrated, but partisan division - as high as we've ever seen - is likely to hamper even the accelerated rollout of the vaccine promised by the Biden administration," Jackman concludes.

Click here to read the State of the United States Poll.

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Key points

  • 66 per cent of Australians said they were extremely or very likely to use an approved COVID-19 vaccine, compared to 36 per cent of Americans.
  • Conversely, eight per cent of Australians said they were not at all likely to use an approved COVID-19 vaccine compared to 26 per cent of Americans.
  • There is a partisan split in vaccine willingness in the United States (Trump supporters: 34 per cent, Biden supporters: 46 per cent, Other: 19 per cent), but not in Australia (Coalition: 73 per cent, Labor 69 per cent, Greens: 66 per cent, Other: 46 per cent).
  • Perceptions of the severity of the virus are comparable between the two countries with 26 per cent of Australians viewing the virus as extremely or very dangerous, compared to 28 per cent of Americans. Only 13 per cent of Australians and 17 per cent of Americans view the virus as not at all dangerous.
  • There is a correlation between perceived risk of the virus and willingness to take a COVID-19 vaccine, but even Australians who view the virus as not at all dangerous are just as willing to get a vaccine (47 per cent) than Americans who believe the virus is extremely dangerous (46 per cent).

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