COVID-19 Vaccine Survey Results Present New Challenges

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Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve been monitoring the impact on users’ lives – from cancelled physician appointments to increased stress and concern to adoption of digital health tools to manage health. These remain uncertain times, and as we move closer toward a COVID-19 vaccine, it’s important to understand some of the challenges that it presents for patients, families, those with complex medication therapies, and the uncertainty of its availability.

To capture a pulse of how Medisafe users are feeling about the potential for a vaccine, we recently issued a survey to nearly 12,000 users. We surveyed them on several issues, including the potential for a vaccine to become available before the end of 2020, likeliness to get a vaccine once it’s available, and how it might change their viewpoint of pharmaceutical companies helping to bring one to market.

Availability

In general, all users felt a vaccine would not be available before the end of 2020. However, women were the least convinced a vaccine would be available before the new year, with 69% saying they were not confident one would become available. This stands in contrast to men with 46% indicating that a vaccine might arrive before 2021.

Likeliness to take the vaccine

Overwhelmingly, a majority of users said they would wait to get a COVID-19 vaccine, deferring the guidance to either their own physician or waiting until a large portion of the population had received the vaccine.  Those in Gen Z (ages 202-29) were the most likely to get the vaccine as soon as it becomes available (28%) and suburban moms were the least likely to get it (44%) preferring to wait until enough of the population have received it to know how it works.

Likeliness to get a flu shot

The hesitancy to get the COVID-19 vaccine did not translate to resistance to all vaccines, however. We asked users if they would be getting an annual flu shot to see if there was any correlation among sentiment. 73 percent of users said they will get a flu shot this year. Yet, 20% of those who are getting a flu shot this year responded that they would never trust a COVID vaccine.  In analyzing the open-ended comments, respondents cited distrust in the rushed nature of the vaccine development, uncertainty in the scientific trials, and the overall political nature of the vaccine in timing with the presidential election.

Concerns about a COVID-19 vaccine

While there were multiple concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine, overall effectiveness, potential side-effects, and rush to market were the primary issues users cited as reasons for delay. Additional comments indicated that the potential timing of a vaccine becoming available in such a rapid manner and in conjunction with an election were suspect, as noted by several users. More than 3,000 comments referenced the rushed nature of the vaccine and questioned whether adequate testing on a vaccine would occur before it came to market.

Changes in family size impacts attitudes

It was interesting to note that with more people at risk within a family, the greater the distrust in the vaccine was shown. Among single household families, only 8% said they would never trust a vaccine. However, in households with five or more people, it rises to 15%. It’s clear that parents are unwilling to subject their loved ones to a vaccine without greater information and guidance.

Pharma companies

As the driving force behind the development of COVID-19 vaccines as well as treatments for patients, we surveyed users on their feelings toward pharma companies. For the majority of companies, the feelings were fairly neutral across the board, patients taking medications from Bristol-Myers Squibb and Astellas ranked them as having a higher opinion due to their vaccine efforts.

From this latest survey, it’s clear that users still have a high amount of hesitancy when it comes to COVID-19 issues, and the forthcoming vaccine in particular. We believe this is important to note as pharma companies move closer to their vaccine distribution efforts in helping to inform patients on risks, contraindications, and the need for guidance and support beyond just the initial vaccination. Greater clarity in vaccine trials, its scientific process, and support from leading physicians will be essential in helping to gain greater adoption from the public, and an important step to ending the pandemic.

See the full summary of the results of our survey here, and our press release here.