Recently, collaborative research between the University of Ohio and Northwestern University has investigated the impact of vaccine distribution and changes in public perception on the pandemic since the December of last year and found that a significant number of people are now less fearful of dying from the coronavirus infection as well as more willing to get the vaccine.
To reach this conclusion, the researchers surveyed over one thousand Americans every month from the end of last year to February of 2021.
During this period, the participants had to answer questions regarding their views on vaccine effectiveness, hesitancy to get a vaccine, mandates on getting vaccinated and wearing a mask, coronavirus control policies, and restrictions on businesses or places or worship.
According to the results, one in four Americans thinks they may die if they contract the coronavirus. In comparison, one in three people thought they would die because of the infection in December.
Erik Nisbet, who is the Professor of Communication & Policy Analysis and director of the Center for Communication & Public Policy at Northwestern, explains that even though the public’s views regarding the dangers of the virus have changed, the general perception of coronavirus restrictions remains consistent since the past three months.
Although some states in the US no longer have mask mandates including Montana, Iowa, Mississipi, and North Dakota, over sixty-one percent of the people are in favor of statewide mask mandates.
In some cases, the support for coronavirus policies has increased. For instance, thirty-one percent of Americans supported a vaccine mandate last year. Now, the percentage has increased to thirty-five percent. However, the number of people in favor of closing businesses has gone down to some extent.
More Americans now want restaurants and bars to re-open. This change may be a result of rising pandemic fatigue among younger adults.
Interestingly, the support for keeping places of worship closed also remained unchanged although there was a lot of resistance against decisions to close churches and other places even during the early days of the pandemic.
Overall, the results of the survey highlight positive changes especially regarding vaccine acceptance and support for coronavirus control policies. At the same time, these changes also accentuate a rising concern about the slow distribution of vaccines across the US.
In the past year, one in three Americans thought getting a coronavirus vaccine would be easy and the distribution process will be fast. Though the speed has increased and reached an average of over one million vaccines daily, more people are now concerned about whether they will be able to get vaccinated.
The long process of distribution and limited supply of the vaccines can result in an opposite effect. People may become frustrated and not get the vaccine at all even if they wanted to get in initially and it is available to them.
Currently, over forty-five percent of people are looking forward to getting vaccinated. The percentage is expected to increase in the coming weeks. With more Americans willing to get the vaccine, a faster and more efficient rollout is then required in order to avoid widespread frustration.