Two of Five Virginians Say Nix to COVID-19 Vaccine

by James A. Bacon

Don’t count on a vaccine to end the COVID-19 epidemic — not in Virginia anyway. Four out of 10 Virginians say they are likely to not get a vaccine, even if approved by the Food and Drug Administration and made available for free. Only 58% say they are “somewhat” or “very” likely to do so, according to a poll released yesterday by the Virginia Commonwealth University school of government.

Last month State Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver said that he planned to mandate a COVID-19 immunization once it was safely released to the public. Focused on “accessibility, affordability and fair distribution” of a vaccine, Governor Ralph Northam said he was not planning a mandate at that time. As it turns out, two thirds of those responding to the VCU poll said they oppose requiring everyone to get a COVID-19 vaccine. 

As I have blogged previously, there are legitimate questions to ask about the efficacy of any vaccine. No vaccine is 100% effective. Various experts have opined that a vaccine likely to meet FDA approval would immunize between 75% and 90% of people exposed to the coronavirus. People have to balance the potential protection against the risks of side effects such as fever, fatigue and headaches.

In the poll, 63% of Independents and 59% of Democrats said they were very or somewhat likely to get the vaccine, while only 49% of Republicans saying they were. It will be fascinating to see if those numbers flip as the vaccine issue becomes polarized along partisan lines, as appears to be happening.

President Trump has trumpeted the release of the vaccine, hopefully before the end of the year, as a game changer in the battle against the virus. Democrats have been begun expressing skepticism regarding the availability of a vaccine — it won’t come out until 2021 at the earliest — and some have questioned the efficacy of any product hurried through the regulatory process under the auspices of the Trump administration.

What effect would a vaccine have on the virus epidemic? Let us assume for purposes of argument that the vaccine is at least as effective as the most effective flu vaccines, about 60%. And let’s assume that only 60% of Virginians take the vaccine. The means the vaccine would confer resistance or immunity to 36% of the population. That would slow the spread of the virus, but it fall short of conferring herd immunity that would end the epidemic.

A slower spreading virus would be a welcome development. But we live in a society in which large groups of people are unwilling to tolerate any visible risk (even as they blithely ignore less visible risks). Would a 60%-effective vaccine be sufficient to coax teachers and students back into schools, to reopen college classes, and relax the restrictions on restaurants, hotels, airlines, and other businesses?

Who knows? The only certainty these days is that uncertainty prevails.

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24 responses to “Two of Five Virginians Say Nix to COVID-19 Vaccine

  1. VCU polling is a step or two behind CNU’s in reliablity (ouch), but I don’t doubt the general trend. Polling measures how deeply media messaging has become ingrained into public attitudes, and the politicization of the vaccine development in recent weeks has been overwhelming. Democrats refusing the vaccine is like Republicans refusing a simple face mask in a crowd of drunks. (No, wait, Republicans are refusing both more commonly….) There actually is a cure for “stupid” but it is rather severe.

    My reaction is, a shorter line for me!

    We are now 11 days past Labor Day, and that holiday basically is focused on the week before. Not seeing the surge yet. If we do not, if we just keep simmering at this level of disease but with fewer deaths, the tenor of this will change rapidly.

    • “In the poll, 63% of Independents and 59% of Democrats said they were very or somewhat likely to get the vaccine, while only 49% of Republicans saying they were. ”

      Have to disagree Steve. Apparently the cure for stupid is as easy registering Independent, or Democrat. Well, maybe not a cure, but an improvement.

  2. If you have a leader who openly interferes with the vaccine development process and apparently is willing to force agencies to rush it – what would we expect?

    It’s one thing to “risk” not wearing a mask to not infect others (that’s a “risk”?) – but what is the risk in taking a vaccine where the POTUS is urging his agencies to “expedite”?

    Even with responsible leaders – there is some risk and anti-vaxxers.

    Tell everyone you’re gonna rush a vaccine and surprised it affects people’s trust? Oh go on…..

    • Untold story: The H1N1 vaccine was produced as quickly, perhaps more quickly. In 2009. Did President Obama screw up the science by rushing that? Now, Trump won’t admit that Obama did as well, and did it first, and for their own reasons the Democrats are trying to paint Trump as a meddler for doing exactly what Obama did!! Can’t make this schist up.

      I love it when you serve them up slow and straight, Larry. Another softball out of the park. They should let you hit Biden with questions…..

      H1N1 faded naturally. Medical “generals” also expect to fight the last war, so yes somebody whispered in Trump’s ear that this one might too. Didn’t, but it wasn’t nuts to think it might.

      • If Obama was removing people in public health who disagreed with his personal wants and philosophy – yes

        There is a difference between wanting an agency to fastrack but keeping their leadership and staff and process and threatening to replace people who don’t do what you want and fast.

        It’s not just “meddling” to get up at a Press Conference and accuse your own CDC and FDA as wrong.

        Trying to paint Trump as the same as his predecessors as if he’s being unfairly portrayed is interesting..

        Here’s your “deep state” liberal: who is “confused” about masks


        this goes on almost every day. He’s like a bull in a china shop – get out of his way or suffer the consequences.

        • If that idiot really thinks a mask that is not designed to stop viral infections is better than a vaccine, he should be fired immediately. That is not an N95 he is holding. He was correct that it will take many months to get any vaccine widely circulated. That actually was not Redfield’s best moment. But then, we still don’t know who screwed up the first U.S. testing regime back in the winter, do we?

          • Even if you thought that as leader of the country – and you knew masks were important – especially some better than others – what would you actually say?

            ANY MASK is better than no mask …. right?

            do you think a responsible leader would find a way to say something like that instead of publically undermining his own CDC?

            you’re right about the word “idiot” – just got it “deranged”

      • H1N1 was an influenza virus. COVID-19 is not the flu. I, of course, am not a virologist, but I highly suspect that it is a lot easier to take existing flu vaccines and modify them to be applicable to H1N1 than to develop a vaccine for a totally new virus.

        In fact, there are numerous strains of the flu virus and the vaccine available each year is different from the previous year, based on CDC’s projections of which strains will be prevalent in the upcoming season. The recommended flu vaccine for this season protects against three strains, including H1N1. It is possible that another strain not included in the vaccine will be prevalent in the season or a new, unknown strain will pop up (like H1N1) did.

        I think Trump is just blowing hot air promising a vaccine in a few weeks (sort of like he keeps saying that he was a “wonderful” new health plan that will be released “shortly”). Nevertheless, I will look askance at any vaccine that is announced before Election Day. The FDA will have to produce strong assurances that all required safety tests have been completed.

  3. If any of these vaccines is granted a EUA with an abbreviated Phase III, I wouldn’t touch it with a 10-foot hypodermic.

    Ironically, however, I would volunteer as a Phase III subject.

    • yeah the word I get from press conferences is that all these “phases” are stupid roadblocks… You’d volunteer for Phase III if they accelerated it?

      no way………

      • “You’d volunteer for Phase III if they accelerated it?”


        Wouldn’t take a vaccine granted an Emergency Use Authorization.

        • So if they come out with one early, and they say it’s gone through all the phases and been personally approved by Trump as the best and greatest vaccine ever?


          • It’s getting hard, Larry. But yeah. I still have faith that the FDA won’t cave on the safety aspect. A press release, yeah, some flunky will try to thread the needle. Safety studies, no, they’ll hold the line — like NASA and Challenger… uh, no, unlike that.

    • Doesn’t seem that is what is happening. They are recruiting subjects here in Richmond (Astra Zeneca). Want the #? My daughter said the downside is, as a subject you have a 1 in 3 chance of getting placebo, and they don’t want you getting any other vaccine during the two-year follow up period. The blood draw schedule discouraged me, too. (Can you put in a spigot?)

      Pay attention readers. Even Larry and Nancy Boy are playing the political game. Neither wants to discuss that vaccine development was just as quick in 2009, and by mid September four vaccines received approval. Like, the equivalent of THIS week. So this effort is less rushed, isn’t it….Nooooo, we can’t admit that. (And as noted, Trump can’t bring himself to point that in 2009 it was as quick or quicker. That dilutes the “I Am The Greatest” meme that keeps him running.)

      • Wait. Anything about alcohol use? ‘Cause that’s a deal-breaker. Any vaccine? Or any covid vaccine?

        2009 they were NOT granted EUA. They went through full testing.

      • “Political game”?

        Nope – if the CDC and FDA follow their standard policies and their leaders and staff are not threatened with firing if they don’t deliver, I have no problems what-so-ever.

        What I have problems with is the POTUS threatening and/or firing people who won’t do the process he wants instead of the ones public health has normally/traditionally used.

        I would not trust ANY process for ANY POTUS who is interfering with the existing processes that have been in place all along.

    • My sentiments exactly.

  4. Pay attention. Steve is playing games with “Approval” and “Authorization” again.

    He’s also playing a game with “improved” and “new”. The N1H1 vaccine went so quickly because it was a modification of an existing vaccine. A Covid vaccine will be all new. So, it will break the record for development of a “novel” vaccine. But not because of Trump, perhaps more despite of him.

    Phase 3 not only tests for efficacy but also rare bad crap, like GBS. GBS with any vaccine is on average a 1 in 100,000 side effect.

    • I agree that it would be a mistake to force this out before the full large Phase III trial, but as I said, despite the pressure I don’t think that will happen. No question that trial is already well underway for some of the candidates. But if the announcement comes at the end of October, even if all the scientists are lined up to praise it as ready for action, the politics will drown out that message. I actually don’t expect to see a useful vaccine until December. Merry Xmas.

      Before that, there may be an EUA but if so I bet it is just for high risk and front line medical. Indeed in five weeks they may trumpet an EUA but that would not be full approval, understood.

      • Just jerking your chain. In fact, Trump has almost guaranteed that the development will cross the i’s and dot the t’s.

        Yeah, December. But, July before you or I can get it.

        BTW, hard getting the senior dose flu vaccine in SEVA.

        • The senior dose flu vaccine is available in Richmond. Got mine earlier this week.

          • Got it two hours ago. Well, when I start coughing up a lung, it’ll take the guess work out of it.

            BTW, once the have a Coronavirus vaccine, will this mean fast turnaround on SARS-COV3, 4, 5,… ?

  5. I just voted in person! It was a bit hard to track down exactly where to vote since the Fauquier Registrar changed locations. Not well advertised either. Substantial line! That is a good sign.

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