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Older Americans Growing More Comfortable With Coronavirus Vaccine

Nearly half want the shots as soon as possible, poll shows


spinner image A doctor wearing a face shield prepares a woman's arm for vaccination
zoranm/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

More older Americans are warming to the idea of the COVID-19 vaccine, as a new poll finds that 76 percent of people 60 and older want to get the shots and 46 percent would get them as soon they’re available to them.

A new poll of 1,611 U.S. adults by the Steven S. Hornstein Center for Policy, Polling and Analysis at Long Island University has found that older Americans’ willingness to be vaccinated has doubled since the center’s poll in October.

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Andy Person, the center’s director and chief of strategy, said the results indicate “a considerable positive shift during the past two months in the way Americans are thinking about the vaccine. It suggests that more Americans are optimistic and hopeful that the vaccine is safe and effective.”

The percentage of 60-and-older Americans who want immediate vaccinations is considerably larger than in younger age groups. Only 33 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds would jump at the opportunity, along with 32 percent of those ages 30 to 44 and 34 percent of 45- to 60-year-olds.

In addition to those who want to move quickly, 11 percent of age 60-plus people said they wanted to get the shots within a few weeks of availability and an additional 7 percent within a month; 12 percent would wait longer. Only 14 percent wouldn’t get the shots at all, while 10 percent were unsure or didn’t answer.

Forty-one percent of 60-plus Americans expect vaccine shots will be widely available by spring, while 31 percent predict wide availability by summer and 17 percent by fall. And 5 percent don’t expect it until 2022 or later.

Americans 60 and older remain cautious about resuming normal activities in 2021, even after they are vaccinated. Only 42 percent definitely would be willing to travel by air, while 41 percent would attend large family gatherings and just 34 percent would attend a sports or entertainment event.

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