Many Have Doubts about COVID-19 Vaccine Effectiveness against New Strains

Approval for President Biden’s response to the coronavirus remains high, but many unvaccinated adults are skeptical about vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19 variants

July 23, 2021

Overall, few Americans are very confident in the efficacy of the current COVID-19 vaccines to protect people against new variants of the virus. Most vaccinated adults are at least somewhat confident that the COVID-19 vaccines will be effective against new strains of the virus, but most of those who have not been immunized have little or no confidence. 

As the Delta variant continues to spread rapidly and comprise a growing share of new COVID-19 cases, the coronavirus pandemic remains a key issue for the Biden administration. Public support for President Biden’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic remains high, with two-thirds of Americans saying they approve.

Democrats and older Americans, particularly those age 60 and older, are more likely to have confidence in the effectiveness of vaccines to protect people from variants than younger adults and Republicans.  Those who have not yet vaccinated are far more skeptical. 

The Biden administration originally set a goal of 70% of Americans receiving at least one dose of the vaccine by July 4th,. However, the United States narrowly fell short of the target, and although just over two-thirds of adults report that they’ve received at least one dose, partisan and age differences in vaccine uptake have persisted. Democrats and adults age 60 and older remain much more likely to have been vaccinated than Republicans and younger adults, especially those age 18-44. And of those who have not yet been vaccinated, 81% say they will probably or definitely not get the vaccine.

Despite the recent rise in coronavirus infections,  Americans are still less concerned about being infected with the coronavirus infection than they were during the first months of the year, but the number of those who are worried has increased since last month. 

Six months after President Biden’s inauguration, his approval ratings remain consistent, with 60% of Americans saying they approve of how he is handling his job as president. However, views on his job performance remain highly colored by partisanship.

While the president’s approval rating has remained fairly steady, the public is less positive about the direction of the country on the whole than at any point during Biden’s presidency. Forty-four percent think the country is heading in the right direction and 55% think it’s heading in the wrong direction. Democrats have remained much more optimistic than Republicans, but have experienced a similar decline to the general public.

The nationwide poll was conducted July 15-19, 2021 using the AmeriSpeak® Panel, the probability-based panel of NORC at the University of Chicago. Online and telephone interviews using landlines and cell phones were conducted with 1,303 adults. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3.7 percentage points.

  • Suggested Citation: AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.  (July, 2021). “Many Have Doubts about COVID-19 Vaccine Effectiveness against New Strains” https://apnorc.org/projects/many-have-doubts-about-covid-19-vaccine-effectiveness-against-new-strains/

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